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Clubs turn focus on Tui Cup

Action from last week’s match between Eketahuna and Carterton. Eketahuna won 20-11 to win the Moose Kapene Cup and the Ivan Buller Trophy. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

Marist set for big win on turf
Grassroots TV in Eketahuna, and the first premier game of the season on the Memorial Park turf. Times-Age sportswriter CHRIS COGDALE previews today’s premier club rugby games.

Eketahuna v Greytown, Eketahuna, 2.35pm [Referee: Ryan Hardman]

Number one versus number three on the points table and the match being covered by Grassroots TV adds up to a big day at Eketahuna.

The first-round match went the way of Greytown after they overturned a halftime deficit to record a 35-15 win.

Eke have been the big improvers since then and have boosted their squad with speedy Samoan outside backs Ausage Faumui and Vaifagaloa Mamoe.

Flanker Johan van Vliet has also found the sort of form that made him a Wairarapa-Bush crowd favourite a few seasons ago.

Greytown have shown signs of being genuine title contenders.

They have a nuggety forward pack and the midfield combination of Tahana Brown and Shayne Harmon is arguably the best in the competition.

Greytown winger Moo Moo Falaniko on his way to a hat-trick against East Coast.

Winger Moo Moo Falaniko has been outstanding try-scoring form, including dotting down for a hat-trick last week against East Coast.

Coggie’s Prediction:

Too close to call? Will go for Eke – just.

Gladstone v Carterton, Gladstone, 2.35pm, [Daniel Mangin, Wellington]

The fortunes of the 2018 Tui Cup finalists could not be more contrasting coming into this match.

Defending champions Gladstone are in second place – one point off the lead — while Carter ton are 11 points adrift of the top four.

Gladstone have been doing what Gladstone do best: Building nicely for the crucial time of the season. Carterton have looked real contenders at times but haven’t delivered.

Last Saturday’s 11-20 loss to Eketahuna is a good point in case.

Carterton had numerous chances to put the game out of Eke’s reach but failed to turn them into points.

A Gladstone win will consolidate their standing and probably end Carterton’s Tui Cup prospects.

Coggie’s Prediction:

Gladstone to win in a close battle with their fiercest of rivals.

Martinborough v East Coast, Martinborough, 2.35pm [Scott Andrew]

The home team have been the steady improvers over the first round and are well-positioned in third-equal place.

East Coast sit in seventh place on 12 points, 14 off the top four and needing a small miracle to make the Tui Cup semifinals.

Martinborough were lucky to win their first-round fixture 21-20 but have progressed significantly since then and look real championship contenders.

Much of their success has been down to their talented backline.

Outside backs Tristan Flutey, Nathan Hunt, and Alex Priest have caused problems for most defences.

The Coasties are not far away from toppling one of the “big” teams.

They will relish the open game that their opponents love to play and will make the most of any Martinborough mistakes.

Coggie’s Prediction:

Martinborough in a high-scoring try fest.

Marist v Masterton Red Star, Memorial Park No 1, 2.35pm [Chris Jefferies]

After seven rounds, there’s finally a premier game being played on the Masterton Memorial Park turf – and it should be a comfortable victory for Marist.

Despite Masterton Red Star showing their best form of the season in last Saturday’s 12-52 loss to Martinborough, where they drew the second half 12-12, it’s hard to see them containing a talented but inconsistent
Marist side.

The green and white forward pack should win more than their fair share of possession and provide the backs with plenty of opportunities to test Red Star’s defence, which has failed to contain all opposition this season and will be stretched even more on the hard, fast artificial surface.

Marist are 11 points off the top four and desperately need the bonus point win to keep alive their Tui Cup aspirations.

Coggie’s prediction:

Easiest game to predict. The first round was Marist 60-0 – a similar score.

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