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Champs pick up where they left off

Gladstone forward, Eddie Cranston, takes the ball up against Carterton on Saturday. PHOTOS/JADE CVETKOV

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Gladstone kicked off the defence of their premier club championship with a bonus point 29-21 victory over fierce rivals Carterton at Carterton on Saturday.

Both teams showed good attacking intent from the start, but it was Gladstone who had the better of early territory and possession.

They were rewarded after 12 minutes when right winger Logan Hebenton scored wide out after a slick move from a five-metre scrum. Jeremy Osborne converted from the sideline.

Gladstone doubled the lead five minutes later when flanker Ryan Knell scored in a driving maul from a lineout five metres out.

That fired Carterton into action, and the home team were rewarded for their domination of territory and possession with converted tries to second-five Cane Osborne and hooker Hone Vella.

A 36-metre penalty by Osborne had Gladstone go to the halftime break with a 17-14 lead.

Logan Hebenton [11] scoring Gladstone’s first try.
Playing into a stiff southerly, the visitors started the second half the better, lifting the pace of the game and keeping the ball in hand.

Veteran centre Cameron Hayton and fullback Andy McKay made numerous damaging runs.

Carterton’s defence was eventually split with lock Andrew Smith running 25 metres to score handy to the posts.

The match was put beyond Carterton’s reach when Inia Katia finished off a 60m try started by McKay and carried on by Smith, who ran 25 metres before handing off to the little Fijian to scamper over.

Fullback Utah Walker scored from a quick penalty tap to give Carterton some hope, but it was too little too late.

In the end Gladstone’s experience in closing out the big games proved to be the difference.

Converted prop, now No 8 Jacko Hull made several telling runs and was at the forefront of the Carterton defence.

There was much anticipation of the appearance of former Newcastle Falcons loose forward Brent Wilson, however, his season appears to be over after he suffered a knee injury at training.

All in all, a typical early season game, with a few too many basic errors, and fairly stop-start with referee Rebecca Mahony dishing out 29 penalties.

Greytown prop Lewis Bush on the charge against Eketahuna. Greytown won 35-15. PHOTO/KYLIE EVANS

At Greytown, superior fitness was the difference when the home side took on Eketahuna. Three tries in the final quarter had Greytown run out 35-15 winners.

It was Eketahuna who dominated many facets of the game to lead 15-14 with 20 minutes to play.

That was when Greytown, who have reportedly been trained by an army officer for the past few weeks, upped the ante, scoring three converted tries.

Flanker Rihi Brown and prop Lewis Bush were at the forefront of a very physical Greytown forward effort.

Loose forwards BJ Campbell and Sam Shaw, and midfield back Robbie Anderson had outstanding games for Eketahuna, whose lack of depth on the bench was exposed in the final quarter.

At Whareama, missed kicks at goal cost East Coast a victory over Martinborough.

Trailing 21-10 well into the final quarter, the Coasties scored two late tries, however both conversions, the first from a handy position and the second from wide out, were missed, giving Martinborough a 21-20 victory.

The Martinborough forwards dominated for long periods, but the complexion of the game changed when golden oldies scrums were called due to a shortage of props.

For the winners, veteran Tim Priest controlled played well, while Nathan Hunt put his hand up for a return to the representative scene with many surging runs on the left wing.

Flankers Joe Feast and Jeff Meredith led the way at breakdown time for the Coasties, and coach Byron Karaitiana had a strong game in midfield.

At Colombo Rd, Marist made no race of their clash with Masterton Red Star, running in 10 tries for a 60-0 thrashing.

A combination of size and speed in the forwards proved too much for Red Star, who, although well-beaten, never gave up and kept tackling to give their supporters some hope they could cause an upset or two during the season.

Loose forwards Knell and Eddie Cranston, and locks Smith and Andrew McLean were outstanding at the breakdown.

SCORES

Moose Kapene Cup [home teams first]

Carterton 21 [Cane Osborne, Hone Vella, Utah Walker tries; Walker 3 con] Gladstone 29 [Logan Hebenton, Andrew Smith, Ryan Knell, Inia Katia tries; Jeremy Osborne pen, 3 con]. HT 14-17.

East Coast 20 Martinborough 21; Greytown 35 Eketahuna 15; Masterton Red Star 0 Marist 60.

Premier Reserve

Carterton 43 Martinborough 14; Greytown 42 Puketoi 18; Pioneer Old Boys 12 Marist 12; Gladstone 12 Featherston 19; Eketahuna 19 Tuhirangi 66; East Coast – bye.

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