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Lane Penn Trophy up for grabs

Tupou Lea’aemanu, with ball, has been a devastating ball runner for Carterton. PHOTOS/FILE

Champs seek to kickstart season

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Lane Penn Trophy Final

Carterton v East Coast, Carterton, 2.35pm [Alistair Payne]

The coaches will be looking skyward with the hope of a dry surface for today’s ‘Town and Country’ final for the Lane Penn Trophy.

Carterton and East Coast favour an up-tempo game and moving the ball around, but with rain and strong northwesterly winds forecast for today, prospects of a dry ground are looking slim.

“Prepare for the worst and hope for the best” is the philosophy of Carterton coach Neil Rodger

“The ground is really good because there’s hardly been a game on it, but the least amount of rain would be good,” he said.

Rodger has good reason for wanting the rain to stay away. He has dangerous attackers, especially out wide with the versatile Inia Katia, flying winger Fiula Tameilau, and fullback Aseri Waqa, who is a major threat on the counterattack.

East Coast coach Aaron Matenga said if the rain arrived it would come down to which team adapts fastest to the conditions and takes control of the game. He thinks the best defence and impact off the bench could be decisive.

Rodger has the luxury of fielding close to his strongest XV with the return of utility forward Logan Wakefield and prop-No 8 Tupou Lea’aemanu, both fizzing after winning the Super Rugby U-20 championship
with the NZ Barbarians.

“We’re probably stronger this week than we have been all year,” Rodger said, “and we’re pretty lucky because it’s who we’re going to leave out. We haven’t been in that position this year, so it’s probably come at a good time.”

Rodger is confident Carterton will go well regardless of the conditions but is wary of the dangerous Coasties.

“It doesn’t matter when you play them. They’re bloody hard to beat. It’s the type of rugby they play – into everything and a real energy team, and if you can’t match that, you’re going to struggle.”

Matenga expects a torrid battle against a Carterton side strong across the board. “They will be physical up front and will try to get the ball to their fast men out wide,” said Matenga

“If we can contain the ball and minimise our mistakes and play to the game plan, we will go well.”

Matenga said just making the final was an honour – winning the trophy would be huge for East Coast.

“The club is growing each year, and we have a great leader at the helm, Rossco Wakeling, and an awesome committee that supports him, but this would show our appreciation to our staunch Coasties supporters that have our backs every weekend.”

As well as the Lane Penn Trophy, the Billy Herbert Memorial Trophy in recognition of Herbert, who played for both clubs, and the Wai-Bush challenge trophy, the Dick Nunn Shield, are up for grabs.

Coggie’s Prediction: Carterton have the greater firepower but never write off the Coasties. Carterton in a close one.

Marist out to boost old timers

Marist v Martinborough, Memorial Park No 2, 2.35pm [Matt Perry]

Keeping moving forward and improving from game to game are the key factors for Marist captain Peter Beech heading into today’s clash against Martinborough on Old Timers Day at Marist.

Raniera Petersen has returned to booster Greytown’s backline.

The Green and Whites started the championship with two bonus points wins over Gladstone and Pioneer, and Beech said it was vital that they continued to build on that early momentum.

“We’ve started well, and now that we’re in the championship frame, we’ve got to keep progressing, and we want to turn on a good performance for our old timers,” Beech said.

Marist are without former NZ Heartland XV utility forward James Goodger, who is out for four to five weeks with an ankle injury, and loose forward Anthony Balks is marginal with a shoulder niggle.

Martinborough have shown good form in recent weeks, with a win over Gladstone last week, after a narrow loss to Pioneer, and with the return of representative loose forwards Logan Flutey and Jake Goodger are nearing full strength.

Coggie’s Prediction: Marist by a narrow margin.

Greytown seek to kickstart season

Eketahuna v Greytown, Eketahuna 2.35pm [Carl Baker – Manawatu]

Greytown coach Mark Childs just wants to get a win to kickstart the season for the defending champions, who have started to show some good form in two close losses to East Coast and Carterton in the opening rounds of the premier championship.

“We’ve played really well the past two games without winning some key moments,” Childs said.

“We’re building, but it’s crunch time now and were not looking too far ahead – we just want to get our first win.”

Greytown received a big boost with the return from Australia of former Heartlands U-20 representative Raniera Petersen, who will bring a touch of class to the midfield.

Eketahuna, though, have suffered a significant blow with the loss of veteran midfielder and co-captain

Robbie Anderson, with ball, is out for the season with an AC injury.

Robbie Anderson – out for the rest of the season with a bad knee injury.

Coggie’s Prediction: Never easy at Eketahuna, especially in the wet. But the home side’s playing numbers are taking a hit. Greytown to take the points.

Slugfest in store at Gladstone

Gladstone v Pioneer, Gladstone 2.35pm [Chris Jefferies]

Pioneer coach Victor Thompson is confident of picking up their second win of the championship despite missing some key players for today’s clash at Gladstone.

In-form flanker Joe Roberts, who had been named in the first Wairarapa-Bush squad, is out for the season after undergoing a shoulder reconstruction, while experienced midfielder Nikora Ewe and outside back Hoani Peacock remain sidelined with injury.

Thompson said that presents a good chance for some of the club’s up-and-coming players to stand up and make a name for themselves, and he’s confident they come home with the points.

“We’ve got all the firepower to roll them, but we’ve got to get our shapes right,” said Thompson.

Coggie’s Prediction: A hard one to read, especially with the injuries to key Pioneer players. Gladstone never give up and make a habit of winning games they shouldn’t. Gladstone in a slugfest.

SENIOR RESERVES

Unbeaten Masterton Red Star are at home against East Coast, joint leaders Marist take on Martinborough in the early game at Memorial Park No 2, and Gladstone play Pioneer in the curtainraiser at Gladstone, with all games kicking off at 1pm. Tuhirangi play Greytown-Carterton at Pirinoa at 2.30pm.

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