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Carterton hold off promising Pioneer

Tupou Lea’aemanu crashes over for Carterton’s opening try. PHOTOS/JADE CVETOV


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It was pretty ugly, but Carterton coach Neil Rodger will take the win to finish the ‘town’ section of the Lane Penn Trophy unbeaten.

In the only premier game played, with the other three deferred because of covid-19, Carterton scored three tries to one in a stop-start game that never rose to any great heights at Carterton.

“I have to say that Pioneer really took it to us,” said Rodger.

“I’m happy with the win but not too happy with how we played, but it’s probably good to be in those situations to put the boys under pressure.

“Pioneer, I thought they really played well, especially when they only had 13 men. They hung in there well.”

Carterton made the better start, and a big score looked likely midway through the first half when Pioneer lost both props, Eden Smith and Ihe Namana, to the sin bin within two minutes.

The home side took full toll of the two-man advantage at scrum time, with No 8 Tupou Lea’aemanu charging across from a five-metre scrum for the opening try.

If Carterton thought Pioneer would implode, they had another thing coming as the blue and reds lifted their effort and defended manfully, even picking up their first points with a Reece Calkin penalty.

Arapeta Kingi clears the ball from a Pioneer ruck.

The visitors then had the one-man advantage, back to full strength, and with Carterton prop Blair Heming yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle.

The scores were even after 33 minutes when Pioneer first-five Hoani Peacock flicked a beautiful pass for charging second-five Nikora Ewe to score under the posts.

A second Calkin penalty in first-half stoppage time gave the visitors a surprise 13-10 lead at the break. The talented fullback extended the lead to six points shortly after the resumption of play, but that was the end of the scoring for Pioneer.

Sam Morison closed the gap to 13-16 three minutes later and then regained the lead for Carterton, finishing off with an excellent team try that started deep in their half and featured a brilliant offload from Inia Katia to flying centre Aseri Waqa, who was given too much space by the Pioneer defence.

Katia finished the scoring with a try in the corner after 74 minutes.

Pioneer had their chances in the second half only to be thwarted by stubborn Carterton defence and unforced errors.

Standouts for the winners were Morison, who kicked well and had a solid game first at fullback and then first-five, while Katia was his usual unpredictable self, creating one try and scoring another.

Pioneer captain and No 8 Jonte Miller led by example and was outstanding on defence and with ball in hand, while the underrated Calkin again showed that he is a player of immense talent and has a superb kicking game, a fact not lost on Rodger.

“Reece found us out. It was a good lesson again for the boys if they’re not thinking about 50-22s. When you’ve got someone like that at the back, you’ve got to.”

Overall, the game was a disappointing encounter with too many lengthy stoppages. However, both teams are shaping as serious top four contenders.

Carterton and Pioneer will have next weekend off while the other six teams play their deferred fixtures.


Carterton 23 [Tupou Lea’aemanu, Inia Katia tries; Sam Morison try, 2 pens, con] Pioneer 16 [Nikora Ewe try; Reece Calkin 3 pens, con] HT 10-13.

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