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Pioneer prevail in battle of bridge

Masterton Red Star 15 Pioneer 24

“It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take the win.”

That was the view of Pioneer coach Victor Thompson after his side got the better of a game Masterton Red Star in a scrappy, error-ridden “battle of the bridge” at Colombo Rd on Saturday.

“We never really got into any sort of structure; we couldn’t put our finger on it, and they wouldn’t let us play our game, and we’ll tip our hat to them, but we resorted back to old school and just bashed it up,” Thompson said.

Pioneer took the early advantage, scoring their first try after three minutes, but much of the rest of the first half belonged to Stars, who took the lead with a converted try from a lineout drive and then stretched it to 10–5 with a Tarquin Karaitiana penalty after 15 minutes.

The home side had further opportunities to extend their lead, inexplicably turning down a gift three points in front of the posts, while other chances were ruined with basic handling errors or players taking wrong options.

If Stars had a slight edge in the first half, Pioneer had the clear ascendancy in the second spell, and three tries in a 15-minute period midway through the half gave the “blue and reds” a 24–10 lead and effectively ended the contest.

However, Stars weren’t done, and they fought back in the final five minutes to cross for their second try, but the conversion to earn a bonus point was astray. In another confusing decision, with time almost up, they also turned down a kickable penalty, which would have salvaged a point.

Thompson summed up the poor quality of play from both teams, saying, “I can’t remember what the turnover count was; it would’ve been 50 or more, and we can’t take much out of that – we’ll have to go back to the drawing board and start again.”

Eketāhuna 37
Carterton 36

“Winners are grinners, and there are some very big smiles in Eketāhuna,” said coach Anthony Rowden after their team pulled off the boilover of the round, upsetting the two-time defending champions in a thriller at Eketāhuna.

The early phases looked like business as usual for Carterton as they crossed for three unconverted tries, but the home side stayed in touch with penalties, then scored two tries and took an 18–15 lead into halftime.

Eke came out firing in the second spell and extended their lead to 37–22 with three tries, including two long-range efforts, but Carterton weren’t done and pulled within a point, leading to a nervy finish for Rowden.

“They came back at us and were men possessed for the last 20,” he said.

“If we could’ve held them and denied them [losing bonus] points, it would’ve been nice, but we’re just rapt with five points and a bloody good effort. We’re improving, and that’s what we want.”

Marist 18
Greytown 17

Hayden Cooper was the hero for Marist, with a late penalty sealing a one-point victory in a see-sawing game at Memorial Park No. 2.

However, the drama wasn’t over for the home team as an indiscretion from the kickoff gave Greytown the opportunity to snatch victory with a penalty from close to halfway, only for the attempt to fall just under the crossbar.

Marist had much the better of possession and territory in the first half but struggled to break down the stubborn Greytown defence, although they did score the only try of the half and took a 10–9 lead at the break.

A Gracyn Evans try gave the visitors the lead before Marist scored, only for Greytown to reclaim it with a penalty and then the late drama to seal a home-team victory.

Halfback Ala Malati impressed for the winners, while veterans Nick Olson and Tana Isaac stood out for Greytown.

Martinborough 39
East Coast 30

Martinborough strengthened their lead in the Lane Penn Cup with an entertaining victory over a brave East Coast at Martinborough.

Coach James Bruce went into the game with a plan to experiment and play an expansive game.

“We went out with a game plan to chuck it around a bit, and let’s see how good we are when we get a bit loose,” he said

“In the second half, we brought on a couple of older boys like Cody Thompson, and we got a bit more direct.”

East Coast went into the game on the back of a scratchy 18–17 win over Masterton Red Star, but Bruce expected a stronger challenge and got it.

“It was the normal, tough old battle that we have with East Coast.”

Halfback Josh Matthews, the versatile Coby Kershaw filling in at prop, and fullback Shane Colton impressed for the winners.

PROVISIONAL POINTS

Martinborough 15; Eketāhuna 10; East Coast, Carterton, Marist 9; Pioneer 7; Greytown 6; Masterton Red Star 1.

SENIOR RESERVE RESULTS

Marist 28 [WBD] Greytown 0; Gladstone 33 Carterton 17; Featherston 10 East Coast 28; Tuhirangi 17 Pioneer 36.

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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