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Gladdy’s big test

Flanker Himiona Haira will be key to Martinborough’s defence against Gladstone. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

The Grant Cup up for grabs and Gladstone travel to the scene of their last loss. Times-Age sportswriter Chris Cogdale preview’s today’s Moose Kapene Cup matches.


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Carterton v Greytown, Carterton, 2.30pm [Rebecca Mahoney]

The game of the round!

The two old foes, with the prized Grant Cup up for grabs, what better way to celebrate Old Timers’ Day at Carterton?

On top of that, two teams that are showing signs of being real championship contenders.

Greytown come into the game unbeaten, whereas Carterton have dropped one game, to defending champions Gladstone in the first round.

This match is shaping as the battle of the forward packs. Both have solid scrums and efficient lineouts, and useful but not brilliant backlines.

There’s not much love lost between these two clubs, so this should be a battle royal.

Coggie’s prediction:

Very tight. Carterton by only a few points.

Marist v East Coast, Memorial Park No 2, 2.30pm [Alistair Payne]

Is this shaping as another season of underachievement by Marist?

The green and whites have had only one win from three games, with two of the losses coming at the death. Another loss to East Coast today would likely see them lose touch with the top four.

Likewise, the ‘Coasties’ need a win, their first of the season, to keep alive what would already be their slim prospects of making the top four.

The big Marist forward pack should assure a steady stream of possession for their pacey backline to utilise.

East Coast’s likely focus will be on dominating the breakdown. Any Marist mistakes or lapses of concentration would suit the Coasties, who thrive in the helter-skelter style of game.

A big loss for East Coast is the likely absence of halfback Brian Arnold, rated by many as the province’s best No 9, who is facing a suspension after being red-carded against Carterton last week for punching.

If – and it’s a big if – Marist play to their potential they should be too good.

Coggie’s prediction:

A fast-paced game with plenty of points. Marist to win!

Martinborough v Gladstone, Martinborough, 2.30pm [Matt Clayton]

If Gladstone need a reminder of the threat that Martinborough pose at home, they only need to look back to their last visit to green and black country in July 2018. On that occasion ‘Marty’ won 20-15, inflicting the only defeat on ‘Gladdy’ that season.

Gladstone have started 2019 with three bonus point wins, whereas Martinborough have stuttered to one lucky win over East Coast and narrow losses to Eketahuna and Greytown.

Martinborough coach James Bruce was rapt with his team’s defensive effort, led by blindside flanker Himiona Haira, against Greytown where they withstood numerous attacks with stout goal line defence. They will need more of that against a Gladdy backline with the likes of Inia Katia and Cameron Hayton who have been in fine form.

Tim Priest, whether he plays at first-five or fullback, and winger Nathan Hunt have shown glimpses of their class for Martinborough in the opening rounds.

The forward battle should be even, but the difference may be in the backs.

Coggie’s prediction:

Plenty of points. Gladstone to sneak the win by less than 10 points.

Masterton Red Star v Eketahuna, Colombo Road No 2, 2.30pm [Pete Semmens]

Masterton Red Star coach Colt Pruneau is expecting some of his younger players back after sitting out the past couple of weeks with injury and concussion stand downs.

Whether that will be enough to be a realistic chance against an Eketahuna team that are proving to be the comeback kings, after coming from 28-7 down against Martinborough and 22-5 down against Marist to win, is a different matter.

The ‘Stars’ forward pack has been competitive at times, but they will do well to gain parity against one of the toughest packs in the competition.

‘Eke’ will get plenty of possession and their backs should get plenty of opportunity to test a Stars backline that has demonstrated a lack of desire to tackle in recent matches, and they should run in plenty of points.

Coggie’s prediction:

Would love to say Stars will be in this but can’t see it. Eketahuna by plenty.

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