Carterton’s Nick Mason scores for the home side against Greytown on Saturday. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV
Narrow win secures date with Gladstone in Tui Cup final
Carterton survived a ferocious second half comeback from Greytown on Saturday to set up a mouthwatering clash with the defending champions in this weekend’s Wairarapa-Bush Tui Cup final.
Carterton appeared to be well on their way to victory with a 22-8 lead at halftime, but Greytown weren’t about to go down without a fight.
They rallied to score 19 unanswered points and take a 27-22 lead late in the match, and it was only a converted try to Carterton fullback Nick Mason – who would have been the player of the match – with about five minutes left that got the home team over the line.
Carterton wasted little time getting into their groove on Saturday, and it was Mason who put them in an attacking position and then scored the opening try.
Halfback Isaac Bracewell added a penalty to extend their lead to 8-0, and they added another seven points when flanker Matt Gain crashed over for their second try.
Greytown must have felt like the match was slipping away before they had even fired a shot, but some strong tackling from second five-eighth Cyrus Baker and flanker Marcus Ale got them on the front foot.
They finally got on the scoreboard through a penalty to fullback Nick Olson on the half-hour mark, and three minutes later Baker crashed over after some sustained attack from the visitors.
Greytown would have been happy to head into halftime at 8-15 after Carterton were clearly the dominant team in the opening 40 minutes, but the home team had other ideas.
They launched an attack from near their own line and winger Cheyenne Harmon made a clean break before linking with centre Joe Gordon.
Gordon drew the last defender to give first five-eighth Corey McFadzean a clear run to the line to score one of the best tries of the season.
Greytown knew they needed to strike first in the second half, and they did just that when they added two quick tries to close the gap to 20-22.
With 15 minutes left in the match, Greytown found themselves hot on attack once again, and centre Kingi Kawai strolled over to give them their first lead of the match.
It would have been easy for Carterton to panic after watching their 14-point lead disappear in rapid time, but they stayed calm and worked their way into position to hit back.
Greytown held out wave after wave of attack on their line, but eventually Mason smashed his way through a hole and slammed the ball down under the posts.
They then expertly closed out the final five minutes as Greytown tried everything to get the ball back.
Carterton were the better team for the majority of the match, but seeing their lead evaporate would have caused some heart palpitations for the coaching staff and players.
They will need to be switched on for the entire 80 minutes to topple defending champions Gladstone next week.
Gladstone were made to work hard by Martinborough in the other Tui Cup semifinal, eventually prevailing 37-25.
Martinborough did hold a 13-8 lead at one point, but Gladstone clicked into gear as the match wore on to seal the win.
In this week’s senior reserve final, Puketoi will meet Pioneer after the former upset Tuhirangi 29-10 on Saturday, and the latter beat Carterton 51-32.
Premier: Gladstone 37 Martinborough 25; Carterton 29 Greytown 27; Marist 52 Red Star 19; East Coast 19 Eketahuna 14.
Senior reserve: Puketoi 29 Tuhirangi 10; Pioneer 51 Carterton 32; Pioneer OB 29 Marist 28; Featherston 28 Greytown 0 [defaulted]; Eketahuna 23 East Coast 13; Gladstone 23 Martinborough 5.