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Carterton, Marist packs set for showdown

Greytown’s forward pack, left, surge for the Eketahuna line to score a try in last week’s match at Greytown. PHOTOS/KYLIE EVANS
The defending champions carried on their winning way, and Greytown flexed their muscles. How will they go today? Times-Age sportswriter Chris Cogdale previews the second round of the Moose Kapene Cup.

Marist v Carterton, Memorial Park No 2, 2.35pm [Referee: Alistair Payne]

The game of the round.

Marist come in on the back of a 60-0 hiding of Masterton Red Star, while Carterton are battle hardened from a hard-fought 21-29 loss to early season favourites Gladstone.

The Marist forwards gained a wealth of possession against Red Star and impressed with their speed and mobility around the paddock.

They won’t get that same latitude from Carterton, who showed they will be a tough team to dominate at the set-pieces, especially the scrums where they often had the Gladstone pack going backwards.

In saying that, the Marist pack includes two of the Wairarapa-Bush’s promising young props – 20-year-old Jeremiah Mapusua and 18-year-old Stan Smith. Blindside flanker Kieran O’Brien was outstanding for the green and whites last week, and one can never ignore the all-round influence and impact co-captain James Goodger has on a game.

Former Wairarapa-Bush prop Jacko Hull, who has moved to No 8, put his hand up for higher honours with a standout performance last week, and looks to have a good future once he learns the nuances of loose forward play. Hard-nosed lock Lachie McFadzean adds plenty of steel at set-piece and in the loose.

It’s hard to gauge where the respective backlines sit, given Marist’s stroll in the park last week, whereas Carterton never really got their combinations firing.

Coggie’s prediction:

Carterton to edge the forward battle. That may be enough to get them over the line – just.

Masterton Red Star v Greytown, Colombo Rd No 2, 2.35pm [Scott Andrew]

One hates to say it, but this could be another big score.

Greytown’s pre-season fitness regime, reportedly under the guidance of an ex-army officer, paid off big time last week as they came from behind with three converted tries to beat Eketahuna 35-15.

If they show anything like that sort of form today Red Star could be spending a lot of time standing behind their own goal line.

Moo Moo Falaniko . . . dangerous ball runner for Greytown.

Greytown will certainly get more than their fair share of possession and have big ball runners, such as Moo Moo Falaniko, and the speed out wide from Nick Olson to create havoc.

To their credit, Red Star did show plenty of heart last week in their 0-60 loss to Marist, but lack of possession and territory, and a high tackle count told in the end.

Coggie’s prediction:

Red Star to hang in there for a long time. Greytown to run away with it.

Gladstone v East Coast, Gladstone, 2.35pm [Ryan Hardman]

Gladstone carried on from where they left off last season with a solid 29-21 victory over Carterton.

Although they were far from convincing, the reigning champions know how to take the points when they’re on offer.

East Coast were maybe unlucky not to take the win over Martinborough. A couple of missed conversions and a penalty kick Martinborough converted contributed to a 20-21 loss.

Although East Coast will be competitive for a long period, especially in the second phases where Joe Feast and Jeff Meredith are among the best in the province, they may struggle at scrum time with their two first choice props – Terry Norman and Hayden Kerr – out with injury. It’s hard to see them matching Gladstone’s all-round game.

With the likes of Inia Katia, the unpredictable Epeli Rayaqayaqa – whether he plays in the loose forwards or in the backline – and centre Cameron Hayton, the home team have game breakers across the field.

Coggie’s prediction:

East Coast will be very competitive. Gladstone to pull away in the second half.

Martinborough v Eketahuna, Martinborough, 2.35pm [Rebecca Mahony]

Another close game here between two teams with loads of potential.

Martinborough’s lack of match conditioning was evident in just escaping with an opening 21-20 victory over East Coast, while Eketahuna’s lack of depth on the bench was exposed when they conceded 21 points in the final quarter for a 15-35 loss to Greytown.

Martinborough have promised so much over recent seasons without really delivering.

Coach James Bruce believes he has a solid team of “good club players” capable of being title contenders.

Their forwards will certainly need to step up against a very physical opposition forward pack that includes Wairarapa-Bush props Max Tufuga and Sam Gammie and abrasive loose forwards BJ Campbell and Sam Shaw.

If the home team have an edge, it may be in the backs with veterans Tim Priest and Tipene Haira controlling play and winger Nathan Hunt reprising the form that saw him earn Wairarapa-Bush colours a few years ago.

Coggie’s prediction:

Tempted to sit on the fence – so will go for the home team. Very close.

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