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Gladstone coach mulls strategy

Gladstone’s Scott Day, centre… likely to miss match against Marist. PHOTO/FILE

There’s little more than pride to play for in the final round of Tui Cup rugby before the semifinals. Times-Age sportswriter Chris Cogdale previews today’s action.

Marist v Gladstone, Memorial Park No 1, 2.35pm. [Referee: Mike Wakefield]

Defending champions Gladstone need a bonus point win to get the top seeding for the semifinals and a home game against Eketahuna. A win without a bonus point and Gladstone will host Greytown in the semis.

It all depends on coach Steve Thompson’s strategy. He may choose to have a crack at the top spot or rest key players for the playoffs.

He does have injury concerns with front rowers Richard Puddy [quad] and Scott Day [shoulder] likely to miss the game.

Marist were ordinary in their heavy 19-51 loss to Martinborough and will need a massive resurgence in form to upset the defending champions.

The fifth-placed team will go direct to the Hodder-Steffert Cup final.

Marist are on the same number of points [21] with Carterton and would need to finish higher than them to go straight to the final.

Coggie’s prediction:

Gladstone to win with a bonus point.

Carterton v Eketahuna, Carterton, 2.35pm. [Alistair Payne]

Carterton are between a rock and a hard place. Win, and they’re likely to go straight to the Hodder-Steffert Cup finally and get next weekend off – probably the last thing they want after having the bye last weekend.

They also need to find some form after suffering a 7-39 loss to Martinborough two weeks ago.

Eketahuna have nothing at all to play for, apart from trying to recapture the form that saw them win the Moose Kapene Cup for the first round.

Eketahuna have struggled since beating Greytown in the first game of the second round but did get back to winning ways with an uninspiring 10-0 victory over bottom-of-the-table East Coast last Saturday.

The loss of captain and centre Robbie Anderson with a broken thumb has been a major loss and Eketahuna will be hoping he returns for the semifinals.

Coggie’s prediction:

Carterton to get a confidence building win.

East Coast v Greytown, Whareama, 2.35pm [Chris Jefferies]

This is the game that has absolutely nothing riding on it, so the likelihood is that both teams will take the opportunity to rest players before their respective playoffs.

Greytown’s depth has been tested at times throughout the season and they have had to call on senior reserve players to back up, so the likelihood is they will field a close to full-strength team.

East Coast are playing for pride and will be targeting their Hodder-Steffert semifinal next weekend.

Again, the Coasties don’t have the greatest depth in their squad and will probably line up near full strength.

Coggie’s prediction:

A real ‘Who cares?’ game, but Greytown should be too good.

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