Marist player Paddy Gluck on the charge. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV
A few weeks ago it looked as if the semi-finalists for the Wairarapa-Bush Tui Cup rugby competition had already been found, but Marist’s recent form suggests that may not be the case.
Last week’s stirring 12-3 win over Martinborough followed on from a 70-point thrashing of Masterton Red Star and narrow loss to table-toppers Gladstone, and it seems they are not ready to accept a position in the bottom four just yet.
They are still seven points outside the top four, and every match now takes on vital importance if they are to keep their semi-final ambitions alive.
That starts with a trip to Carterton today for a match which is equally important for the hosts.
Carterton are second on the table – 10 points behind Gladstone – but the rest of the top four are so close together that a loss could see them drop to fourth depending on other results.
Carterton’s last outing was a 20-22 loss to Gladstone two weeks ago, and they had a week off last weekend after Red Star defaulted.
The other three Tui Cup matches have a familiar feel to them, and three teams will start as heavy favourites.
Red Star will have home advantage over third-placed Greytown, but the visitors should have too much firepower across the park to be troubled by the competition’s bottom team.
Greytown started slowly this season but have clicked into gear and came agonisingly close to ending Gladstone’s unbeaten streak last weekend, losing a thrilling match 21-20.
Gladstone will take on East Coast at home today and will be confident of bagging five points and maintaining their lead on the competition standings.
East Coast have won three of their 10 matches to date, but it would take a massive turnaround in form for them to knock over Gladstone.
The final match has Martinborough looking to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat to Marist when they host Eketahuna.
Martinborough have slipped back to fourth after some up and down form, and nothing short of a win will be acceptable from their point of view.
A loss could see Marist move within striking distance on the points table, while Eketahuna are searching for their second win of this year’s campaign.
This week Wairarapa-Bush has its annual exchange with Far North Coast Referees.
Peter Campbell has arrived from Australia to join the Wairarapa referees, and will take control of the senior reserve match between Martinborough and Carterton, as well as being an assistant referee for the senior game at Martinborough.
There is also a swap of premier referees with Whanganui, and Wairarapa’s Scott Andrew and Whanganui’s Sam McKnight will swap places for the weekend.
The interchanges are designed to provide valuable opportunities for referees to extend themselves by building experience and providing a new challenge to further develop their skills.
Premier [all matches at 2.35pm]: Masterton Red Star v Greytown at Memorial Park No 1 [Chris Jefferies]; Marist v Carterton at Memorial Park No 2 [Sam McKnight]; Gladstone v East Coast at Gladstone [Rebecca Mahoney]; Martinborough v Eketahuna at Martinborough
Senior reserves: Puketoi v Greytown, Pongaroa at 2.30pm; Pioneer v East Coast, Pioneer at 1pm; Marist v Pioneer OB, Memorial Park No 2 at 1pm; Featherston v Gladstone, Featherston at 2.30pm; Martinborough v Carterton, Martinborough at 1pm; Tuhirangi v Eketahuna, Pirinoa at 2.30pm.