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Crucial games in race for top four

Pioneer vs Marist

Jeans Street, 2.35pm
[Kaleb Rowlands]

Pioneer coach Victor Thompson anticipates a typical fiery clash when the two Masterton premier sides meet in a vital clash on Pioneer’s home patch, which could have major bearings on both teams’ top four prospects.

Marist are currently third on 17 points, with Greytown on 14 and Pioneer on 12 points. A Marist win would secure their spot in the Chris ‘Moose’ Kapene Memorial Cup semifinals, whereas a Pioneer win would enhance their chances of making the top four, depending on what happens in the Greytown-Carterton match-up.

Pioneer will be without promising first-five Zinny Harmon and winger Timoci Vatunitu with injury; otherwise, Thompson hopes to field close to the same side that scored a last-minute win over Greytown last weekend.

The main change for Marist is the return of outstanding centre Charles Mataitai, which will boost their attacking options out wide.

The green and whites outscored Carterton three tries to two in their 20-15 loss to Carterton last Saturday but were let down by some atrocious goalkicking. Assistant coach Peter Beech says winger Hayden Cooper will take over the role tomorrow; however, he believes that despite their attacking riches out wide, the battle in the forwards has to be won first.

“They’re playing the edges quite well, and they have the forwards that can go up the middle as well, so it’s going to be confrontational rugby to start with, and we just have to make sure of our tackles, and we have to kick a lot better than we did last week. We can’t be playing running rugby against them the whole time because you’re running into a brick wall,” Beech said.

The Warwick Goodger Memorial Trophy will also be up for grabs in what is sure to be a closely fought-local derby.

Marist might just have the edge in the forwards and the talent out wide to take the win.

Greytown vs Carterton

Greytown, 2.35pm
[Alistair Payne]

A resurgent Greytown are out to end bitter rivals Carterton’s unbeaten run in the championship and boost their chances of making the top four.

Coach Kerin Herlihy said the team are coming together nicely after a stuttering start to the season, with the return of veteran loose forward Tavita Isaac and prop Lewis Bush boosting their playing stocks. Bush, in particular, stood out with his control at scrum time and work around the paddock in last Saturday’s gut-wrenching loss to Pioneer.

Former Hurricane Andre Taylor had also been influential in his outings for Greytown but will miss the next couple of weeks because of a quad injury.

Herlihy is expecting nothing less than a no-quarter-given clash between the two fierce rivals.

“Carterton will be tough, but the boys will be up for it. A good day, a great crowd, and it will be a great tussle, and I’m looking forward to it,” Herlihy said.

As well as valuable points, the Toiora Cup, in memory of Finn Yeats, who represented both clubs, is on the line.

It’s hard to see in-form Carterton beaten but never discount Greytown against the old enemy.

East Coast vs Eketahuna,

Whareama, 2.35pm
[Mike Wakefield]

Eketahuna centre Robbie Anderson is confident his battling side can get their first win of the season against the Coasties.

Anderson said Eke have a good solid core of experienced players led by versatile captain Sam Gammie, who can play anywhere in the forwards, BJ Campbell, who has been in outstanding form at number 8, and talented second-five Ashton Coates, but they have struggled to field a consistent side.

Injuries are likely to sideline Eke’s two Fijian wingers, Leva Salusaluqaqa and Ratu Nauku, but Anderson believes they should still field a team good enough to take the points.

Eketahuna are coming off a 61-10 hiding from Martinborough, while the Coasties picked up their first win, holding off Gladstone 29-22, keeping alive their chances of pushing for the top four.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: Eketahuna won their Lane Penn Trophy clash, and I’m picking them to repeat that effort in a close one.

Martinborough vs Gladstone,

Martinborough, 2.35pm
[Steve Newson]

This looks like the most one-sided game of the round between the in-form Martinborough and a Gladdy side that have been struggling to field a consistent team all season.

Martinborough easily dispatched Eketahuna last Saturday, with their outstanding backline having too much skill and pace out wide, and tomorrow’s game could see a repeat if their forwards can deliver a good share of possession.

Gladstone went down to 29-22 to East Coast last weekend, and much will depend on who is available, with veterans such as Andrew McLean, assistant coach Charlie Bargh and coach Stan Wright taking the field in recent encounters. Although Gladdy have too much pride to chuck in the towel, it’s hard to see them toppling Marty on their home track.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: Martinborough to run away with a bonus point victory.


Unbeaten competition leaders Tuhirangi should make it win number five when they take on the struggling East Coast at Pirinoa at Pirinoa at 2.30pm.

Carterton are at home to Marist, Greytown host Pioneer, and Martinborough and Gladstone clash in the curtain-raiser at Martinborough.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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