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Carterton push for semis starts

Carterton skipper Daryl Pickering clears the ball in their win over Martinborough last week. Carterton will be going for a third straight win in the premier competition when they play Gladstone today. PHOTO/FILE

In round five of the Wairarapa-Bush premier club championship, results of crucial games could change the complexion of the standings leading into the competition’s semifinals. JOHN LAZO-RON takes a look at some of those matches.

Gladstone v Carterton, Gladstone, 2.35pm [Chris Jefferies]

The Gladstone-Carterton derby is a crucial Moose Kapene Cup game for both sides, but it will be a must-win game for Carterton.

Carterton are just outside the top four in fifth place on 10 points.

But with Pioneer and Marist above them both on 14 and 11 points, respectively, a loss for Carterton could see their hopes for a semifinal berth fade away.

Carterton coach Neil Rodger was under no illusions it would be a crucial match was for his side at this end of the season.

“We’re trying to keep on a roll as this will be three-in-a-row wins if we nail this one,” he said.

“We’ve been focusing on trying to keep up with what we’ve created in the last few weeks, and we know we can’t afford to drop off now.”

Rodger said his side’s preparation leading into the match was great, with everyone available for selection.

“We always look forward to playing Gladdy. We love the rivalry – we always have, and I’m sure it’ll be a tough old battle.”

A win for Gladstone could well cement their place in the top four with only three rounds remaining.

Coach Steve Thompson felt his team were starting to find a bit of form despite being ravaged by injury and having to use a few reserve grade players.

“We’re still seriously hit by injury, but we’re getting by,” he said.

“Each week is a test for us. Last week’s [11-5 over East Coast] was a close one in the end, but we put ourselves in a bad position towards the end of the game. We’re lucky to get out of it.”

Thompson said he expected to face a fired-up Carterton today.

“Carterton are a good side. Their reputation at the beginning of the season was pretty high and probably of late starting to get there,” he said.

“It will be a crucial game for both of us … but being at home this week will be a real good incentive for us, and we’ll be up for it.”

Marist v Eketahuna, Memorial Park, 2.35pm [Alistair Payne]

Eketahuna’s season is on the line today when they play fourth-placed Marist in Masterton.

Eketahuna suffered a heartbreaking one-point loss to Pioneer last week, which left them needing to win their next three matches to have any chance of making the top four.

They are on six points, just above bottom-placed Martinborough [2], and a loss would most likely see them out of contention for the semifinals.

Marist captain Peter Beech said his side would be looking to bounce back from their 10-39 defeat to Greytown last week.

“We were competitive against Greytown for about 50 to 60 minutes but that’s not going to win you games,” Beech said.

“The directive’s been to compete for 80 minutes, and that’s been the focus for us this week. Eketahuna’s got a strong forward pack, so our guys are going to have to muscle up.

“We’ve got some firepower out wide, so weather permitting, we can spread it and assert our dominance there.”

Beech said his side would look early to lay the platform for the match by retaining possession and stop from Eketahuna from getting on a roll.

In other matches, Pioneer play East Coast at Jeans St [2.35pm, Pete Semmens], and Martinborough are home to Greytown [2.35pm, Kaleb Rowlands].

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