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Fierce rivalry takes spotlight

Chris Hemi [with ball] had a strong opening game for Greytown. PHOTO/FILE

Anderson expecting Eketahuna to improve
The battle between the two unbeaten town teams is sure to be a fiery feature match of the second round of the Lane Penn Trophy, writes CHRIS COGDALE.

RUGBY

Carterton v Greytown, Carterton, 2.35pm [Alistair Payne]

Possession of the prized Grant Cup will add spice to this match between the neighbouring rivals.

Carterton coach Neil Rodger expects a typically feisty game in what is widely regarded as the fiercest rivalry in the province.

“There will be nothing less than the other battles between the two towns, and it will be all-in no doubt. I’m sure there will be a bit of fire in there – and a bit of niggle,” he said.

Having played two preseason matches and the opening round, it was “going to be the test of where we’re at”, he said.

Carterton produced the classic game of two halves in beating Marist 27-7 last Saturday, and Rodger said they could not afford a repeat of that.

“We stopped at halftime. We’ve got a lot of young guys, and they probably learned a few lessons last week that if you drop off, even five per cent, what happened can happen, so no points in the second half.”

As for Greytown, Rodger expects them to be strong upfront.

“They’ve got a few handy backs too, but I think the main threat will be through the forwards.”

Coggie’s prediction: Greytown will find Carterton tougher than Pioneer, but centre Zac Guildford sent out an ominous warning that the team left 20-30 points on the paddock. Greytown in a close encounter.

Pioneer v Marist, Jeans St, 2.35pm [Pete Semmens]

An injury to captain Jonte Miller is the biggest concern for Pioneer coach Koti Tikitiki-Whittaker ahead of playing the defending champions today.

The outstanding flanker limped off with an ankle injury in the last 10 minutes of the team’s 8-43 loss to Greytown. Tikitiki-Whittaker said they would monitor his progress and leave it as late as possible to give Miller a chance to be fit.

Despite the margin of the scoreline, Tikitiki-Whittaker was satisfied with many aspects of the game, including the team’s discipline.

“Our discipline was 100 per cent. We’ve been working with the players off the field and helping them to understand how to react if other teams niggle and try and get at us. We’ve been hard on our strategies,” he said.

There is always something special about clashes between Pioneer and Marist, going back to the days when the clubs were situated next to each other at Memorial Park but Tikitiki-Whittaker said it is no different to any other game.

“Every game is important, and we’re taking it one game at a time, but Marist will be no pushovers, and each game is a test match.

“Our guys are progressing nicely, and we’re pretty confident.”

Marist were a mixed bag against Carterton last week, conceding 27 points in the first half and then winning the second half 7-0.

Coggie’s prediction: A first Pioneer win in nearly four years would be for a tonic for the Jeans St faithful. I’m predicting they will get it against a Marist team who were out of sorts last week – by only a few points.

Gladstone v Martinborough, Gladstone, 2.35pm [Shay O’Gorman]

Martinborough will be back to near full strength for a tricky away clash with Gladstone.

The only notable absentee will be newcomer Nick Blundell. The former Under-19 international is likely to be out for several weeks after breaking his arm in an off-road crash while duck shooting.

Coach James Bruce was impressed with his team’s first outing, a 45-22 win at East Coast.

“The young guys did well, we shifted the ball well, and we played our shape and structure quite well and what we practised for probably the first time since I’ve been coaching,” he said.

“We looked at our focus points afterwards, and we got a tick on each one.”

Bruce knows that the green and blacks must improve to get the better of Gladstone on their home patch.

“We played them in that preseason down here, and they play to structure really well.

“Our ruck defence must be on point to combat them, our lineouts have to go a level up, and we’re capable of doing it.”

Coggie’s prediction: Being at home is a big plus for Gladstone, but if Martinborough can get parity in the forwards, they have the talent and pace out wide to score plenty of points. Martinborough to pull away in the second half.

East Coast v Eketahuna, Whareama, 2.35pm [Kaleb Rowlands]

Eketahuna co-captain Robbie Anderson is expecting a big improvement from his team in today’s Country match-up with East Coast.

The teams had contrasting starts to the Lane Penn Trophy, with Eke beating Gladstone 16-5 and the Coasties going down 22-45 to Martinborough.

“We were missing three of our starting tight five, and we still managed to beat Gladstone, who probably have one of the better forward packs going around,” Anderson said.

“It’s always tough out at the Coast, but we’ve got everyone back on deck. If we can hold on to the ball a bit more than we did on Friday night, we should be a good chance to get a win, and hopefully, a bonus-point win.”

Anderson said East Coast have plenty of threats across the paddock, including talented backs Bryan Arnold, Jack Wakeling, and Cam Ravenwood, and tough utility forward Tom Broughton.

“I played with Tom when he was down in Canterbury, so I know what he is capable of – he’s a pretty handy player.”

A second win for Eke would put them on course for a potential “Country final” against Martinborough next week, and the Coasties need the win to stay in contention.

Coggie’s prediction: Hard to get a gauge on this given their contrasting efforts in the first week. Winning form is good form, so I will give Eke the nod – narrowly.

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