Double try-scorer Inia Katia makes a break for Gladstone against Carterton. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV
Carterton came as close to beating Gladstone as any team have managed this season in a thrilling Tui Cup premier rugby match at Gladstone on Saturday.
Trailing 22-20, Carterton first five-eighth Corey McFadzean had the opportunity to level the scores with a conversion from the right of the posts on fulltime, but pulled the attempt wide.
It was a disappointing end for the visitors, as they failed to capitalise on an utterly dominant scrum and a wealth of possession.
Things started positively for Carterton as they camped themselves inside Gladstone territory and they were rewarded when McFadzean jinked his way over from close range.
The home side wasted little time responding with a try of their own, and it was halfback Inia Katia who scurried over.
Carterton added a penalty to lead 10-7, but it was Gladstone who went to the break ahead when fullback Brad Griffith was on the end of a slick backline move to score in the corner.
Carterton clearly had the better of the set-piece battle, but both teams looked dangerous with ball in hand in general play.
First five-eighth Jeremy Osborne extended Gladstone’s lead to 15-10 with a penalty early in the second half, but Carterton came storming back to level the scores with another try.
Gladstone worked their way into Carterton territory in search of a crucial try, and it eventually came when a break down the right flank led to a pass infield that was pounced on by Katia who crossed for his second.
A strong wind made goalkicking difficult for both teams, and Katia made an effort to get as close to the posts as possible for his kicker.
The successful conversion gave Gladstone a seven-point buffer heading into the final 10 minutes.
Carterton launched wave after wave of attack on the Gladstone line over the frantic final stages, and were rewarded when a series of penalties led to yellow cards to Andrew Smith and Katia.
The numerical advantage eventually told, as McFadzean landed a pinpoint cross kick on the chest of winger Trent Hopwood, who also made an effort to get close to the posts.
That left McFadzean with one final chance to level the scores, but it wasn’t to be and Gladstone extended their unbeaten run to nine matches.
Carterton have dropped to fourth after Greytown and Martinborough both won on Saturday.
Greytown beat Eketahuna 31-18, while Martinborough went to East Coast and came away with a 29-13 win.
In the round’s other match, Marist thrashed Masterton Red Star 75-5.
Gladstone 22 Carterton 20; Greytown 31 Eketahuna 18; Martinborough 29 East Coast 13; Marist 75 Masterton Red Star 5.
Senior reserve results:
Featherston 30 Greytown 7; Gladstone 17 Martinborough 5; Puketoi 66 Carterton 7; Marist 29 Eketahuna 5; Pioneer OB 96 East Coast 17; Pioneer 39 Tuhirangi 31.