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Finalists take shape

Pioneer and Martinborough are in the box seat to play in the Lane Penn Trophy after recording their second win to take clear leads in their sections of the North-South competition.

Eketahuna 20
Pioneer 27

“We managed to come away with the ‘W’, and that’s pretty hard to do up there in those conditions.”

That’s the view of Pioneer coach Victor Thompson on his side’s hard-fought 27-20 victory in the mud at Eketahuna.

“Eketahuna came with typical Eke rugby and put us under pressure for the whole game,” Thompson said.

“We tried to stick to our expansive game and managed to get there in the end, but we left a lot of points out there, and with the wet conditions, you just couldn’t hold on to the ball.”

Lock Nikora Roberts impressed in his first game back for Pioneer and was named player of the day, while the promising Zinny Harmon again impressed at first-five.

Pioneer picked up a bonus point for scoring four tries and only need a win over the battling East Coast on Saturday to lock in a spot in the final on May 6.

Martinborough 12
Carterton 8

A late try to substitute teenage winger Conall Doyle sealed a come-from-behind 12-8 victory for Martinborough in wet conditions in Martinborough.

Carterton had the better of the set pieces early on, with Logan Wakefield and veteran Lcahie McFadzean dominating the lineouts and the powerful front row led by prop Tupou Lea’aemanu setting a strong platform in the scrums.

The visitors built an 8-0 lead before Martinborough closed the halftime gap to 8-5 with a try to Nathan Hunt.

The home team finally gained parity in the forwards in the second half with some front-row substitutions. The extra possession and territorial advantage paid off when former NRL player Keanu Dawson, playing at second-five, created the space for Doyle to run on to and score the match-winner.

A win over Greytown in Greytown on Saturday will secure Martinborough’s place in the final.

East Coast 10
Marist 15

A second-half try to flanker Marcus Ale sealed Marist’s 15-10 win over East Coast in the wet at Whareama.

In an error-ridden game that never rose to any great heights, the teams traded first-half tries before Ale scored to wrap up Marist’s first win of the season.

Marist manager Mark Brown said the conditions did not help free-flowing running rugby.

The grass was long, there was a lot of water on the field, and there were plenty of mistakes by both sides,” Brown said.

“We did enough to get over the line, but it was one of those games where there’s not a lot to talk about.”

Greytown 28
Gladstone 5

Greytown coach Kerin Herlihy is happy after his team took a step up from the previous weekend’s 59-10 loss to Carterton.

Herlihy said the return of former Tongan international prop Tolu Fahamokioa and veteran loose forward Tana Isaac brought experience and leadership around the paddock.

Greytown withstood early Gladstone pressure to take an 11-0 halftime lead. Three further tries in the second half sealed the bonus point in what Herlihy described as a good solid wet-weather battle.

“I think we probably got to their spots a bit better than they did, but they certainly had their opportunities,” Herlihy said.

“It was good for us, it was a good game. We were a little bit more settled, and the players took a step up which was good.”

Women’s Premiership
Wairarapa Wahine Toa 0
Kia Toa 42

The 42-0 scoreline might look one-sided, but that did not reflect the effort put in by Wairarapa Wahine Toa in the first game at their new home venue at Solway Showgrounds.

The home side did well to restrict the classy visitors to 12-0 in the first half, but the weight of possession in favour of Kia Toa told in the second spell as they ran away with the game.

Both teams were intent on playing attacking rugby, and given the trying conditions,
ball control was very good.

Fullback Kate Donald stood out for the home side, with solid defence and some outstanding runs, including one 50m effort from deep in her own half.

There were plenty of encouraging signs for Wahine Toa, and although they probably won’t challenge the top sides, the Wairarapa-based team are far superior to last year’s team, and should notch up some victories and possibly push for a top-four finish.

Senior Reserves

Red Star highlighted their favouritism for the championship with a comprehensive 89-0 thrashing of Greytown. Defending champions, Tuhirangi also impressed in dispatching Pioneer 52-7. Marist got the better of East Coast, winning their clash at Whareama 19-5, and Martinborough won a tight battle with Carterton 24-17.

Lane Penn Trophy Provisional Points

North: Pioneer 10; Eketahuna, Marist 6; East Coast 3.

South: Martinborough 9; Carterton 6; Greytown 5; Gladstone 0.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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