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Eke in front – as top four emerges

Centre Shane Harmon was in devastating form for Greytown against Gladstone. PHOTO/KYLIE EVANS

Gladstone win due to late surge
Eketahuna head the four teams in contention to win the Moose Kapene Cup after Saturday’s matches. But there is just three points between them. Times-Age sportswriter Chris Cogdale reviews the weekend’s club rugby.

A clear top four has developed in the Wairarapa-Bush Premier Club Rugby Premiership. Eketahuna, Gladstone, Greytown and Martinborough are in with a chance of taking out the Moose Kapene Cup, awarded to the leader after the first round of the Premier Club Rugby Championship.

A converted try with two minutes left on the clock gave Gladstone a 26-25 victory over Greytown and kept alive their chances of retaining the Moose Kapene Cup.

Both teams showed their intent to play expansive rugby from the first whistle at Greytown and it was the home team that was rewarded first after nine minutes.

The Greytown scrum, which dominated all game, pushed the ‘Gladdy’ pack off the ball, Number 8 Tavita Isaac made a surging 20m run, breaking two tackles and feeding winger Moo Moo Falaniko, who ran 40m to score in the corner.

Gladstone, not for the last time in the game, hit straight back with veteran lock Andrew McLean crashing over after sustained forward pressure.

The home team made it 12-5 after 35 minutes when fullback Raymond Oakley scored after they opted for a scrum from a penalty near the line.

But two minutes later the scores were level again after big No 8 Joe Tako dived over. The drama wasn’t over and Isaac was rewarded for another strong game with a try after a quick tap was taken from a penalty 15m out, giving Greytown a 17-12 lead.

Centre Shane Harmon and powerful second-five Tahana Brown caused the Gladdy defence problems all game and their combination gave the home team an opportunity for Falaniko to kick a penalty. A comedy of errors followed. The penalty attempt missed and was caught by a Gladstone player, who passed to a team-mate, who knocked it on. From the ensuing scrum winger Taylor Fenwick crossed for an easy try and a 22-12 lead.

That was promptly reduced to 22-19 after livewire Fijian winger Epeli Rayaqayaqa brilliantly leapt above the Greytown players to win the kick-off, which led to winger Logan Hebenton scoring wide out.

A Falaniko penalty extended Greytown’s lead to 25-19 after 55 minutes.

When it looked as if Greytown would hold on for a deserved victory, the experience of the Gladstone pack shone through in the final 10 minutes. Although well beaten at scrum time, they began to control the breakdown.

The pressure finally told when fullback Andrew McKay scored for first-five Jeremy Osbourne to convert and seal an important victory.

Eketahuna retained their lead in the competition with a scrappy 24-17 win over East Coast at Whareama.

Eke scored tries to second-five Johan van Vliet, No 8 Sam Shaw, fullback Vaifagaloa Mamoe and new Samoan winger Faumui Ausage to take a 24-10 lead early in the second half and looked like they would run away with the game.

But poor handling, wrong option-taking, and silly mistakes kept the Coasties in the game.

A slow start cost Marist in their 25-34 loss to Martinborough at Martinborough.

The home team’s forward pack dominated the early exchanges and their slick backline took full advantage of slack Marist defending.

Fullback Alex Priest, winger Nathan Hunt and centre Tristan Flutey were outstanding as ‘Marty’ built to a 22-3 halftime lead.

Marist responded with four second half tries but the end result flattered the visitors.

Carterton’s Jack Loader bursts through the Masterton Red Star defence on his way to a try. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

The season goes from bad to worse for Masterton Red Star. The competition tail-enders held their own in the early forward battles. But once Carterton took control, they ran riot, crossing for 13 tries and a 79-0 victory.

Scores [home teams first]

Greytown 25 [Raymond Oakley, Tavita Isaac, Taylor Fenwick and Moo Moo Falankiko tries; Falaniko pen, con] Gladstone 26 [Andrew McLean, Joe Tako, Logan Hebenton and Andrew McKay tries; Jeremy Osbourne 3 cons] HT 17-12; East Coast 17, Eketahuna 24; Martinborough 34, Marist 25; Carterton 79, Masterton Red Star 0.

Provisional standings after six rounds

Eketahuna 24, Gladstone 22, Greytown and Martinborough 21, Carterton 15, Marist 14, East Coast 11, Masterton Red Star 0.

Senior Reserve scores

East Coast 13, Eketahuna 27; Martinborough 30, Marist 14; Greytown 77, Gladstone 5; Pioneer Old Boys 5, Puketoi 43; Featherston 0, Tuhirangi 79; Carterton – Bye.

Provisional standings

Tuhirangi 25, Greytown 20, Carterton, Martinborough and Puketoi 15, Pioneer Old Boys and Eketahuna 10; Featherston 9, Marist 8, Gladstone 1, East Coast 0.

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