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Covid hits country fixtures

The enigmatic Inia Katia, right, is one of several exciting attackers for Carterton. PHOTO/KYLIE EVANS

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Wairarapa-Bush will use one of their extra weekends set aside in case of covid-19 with both this weekend’s ‘country’ games deferred.

Last night’s fixture between Gladstone and Eketahuna for the Duck Shooters Cup and today’s decisive game between Martinborough and East Coast have been shifted to Saturday, May 14.

Carterton v Pioneer

Carterton 2.35pm, Alistair Payne

Carterton have locked their place in the Lane Penn Trophy final for the Town and Country series, but that is the furthest thing on coach Neil Rodger’s mind as he prepared for today’s home game against Pioneer.

The Maroons lead the ‘town’ pool on 10 points, with Marist five points adrift in second.

With Carterton having won their first-round encounter two weeks ago, that was enough to secure their place in next month’s final.

Rodger, however, is focusing on getting his players ready for the championship.

“Off the top of my head, we had 12 changes from the Marist game to the Greytown game, either positional or personnel, and we have two or three guys available [this weekend] who haven’t played yet,” Rodger said.

“We’re looking to give guys as much game time as we can, and against Pioneer, we want to improve a little bit more on what we did last week.”

Carterton dominated the collision against Greytown, and gained a slight edge at scrum time, and must do the same against a combative Pioneer eight.

They should have a significant advantage in the lineout where Pioneer struggled to win their own ball against Marist’s Tony Beech and James Goodger.
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Carterton have their own lineout exponents in former Wai-Bush lock Lachie McFadzean, and Hurricanes Under-20 utility forward Logan Wakefield to snaffle any loose or mistimed opposition throws.

The battle for the loose ball won’t be for the faint-hearted. The Carterton loose forward trio of Terongo Tekii on the openside, Zach Wakefield, and No 8 Tupou Lea’aemanu dominated the collisions against Greytown and Pioneer number seven Himiona Haira was a nuisance at the breakdown forcing several turnovers. No 8 Jonte Miller was a powerful defender and a strong runner in broken play.

Both backlines are chockful of attacking talent. Carterton’s outside backs of Inia Katia, Aseri Waqa, Carlos Rimene, and Fiula Tameilau will take full toll of any space or loose kicks.

Pioneer showed with the underrated Reece Calkin at first-five and experienced campaigners Nikora Ewe at second-five and Shayne Harmon at fullback that they have their own dangerous attackers.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: Carterton have shown in their two games they will be one of the teams to beat this year with two comprehensive victories.
Pioneer impressed in beating Greytown first up but turned in a disjointed effort in losing to Marist. Carterton are too organised and should come away with a good win.

COACHES SET TO TEST COMBOS

Greytown v Marist

Greytown 2.35pm, Kaleb Rowlands

James Goodger [with ball] has made a massive difference in the Marist forward pack. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV
Nothing is resting on this game with both sides out of the running for the Lane Penn Trophy, so both coaching teams will use the match to get players plenty of game time and try out combinations before the championship kicks off in two weeks.

The return of veterans lock Peter Beech and utility forward James Goodger made a massive difference to Marist, especially in the organisation around setpieces against Pioneer last week.

The Green and Whites have also unearthed some exciting new attacking talent in the backline in Hayden Cooper in his first year out of college.

The former Wairarapa College star can play anywhere in midfield or the back three and has shown in his two outings that he is a bright future ahead.

The season was always going to be challenging for defending champions Greytown with the loss of much of the team who went unbeaten in 2021.

If coach Mark Childs needed a reality check, he got it with the heavy loss to Carterton.

The makeup of the home side is unknown, but Childs is likely to want to use the game to experiment and give many players significant game time before the start of their defence of the Chris ‘Moose’ Kapene Memorial Cup for the premier championship.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: Marist showed some good signs against Pioneer that they could be a top four contender so I will plump for them, but the result will be secondary for the respective coaches.

Senior Reserves

Only two senior reserve games will go ahead. Carterton play Pioneer in the curtain-raiser at Carterton, and Greytown take on Masterton Red Star in the early game at Greytown.

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