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Pioneer’s late run rolls Rams

Pioneer 50
Masterton Red Star 18

Pioneer scored four tries in the last 12 minutes and ran away for a comfortable victory over a game Masterton Red Star Rams at Jeans Street.

Up until then, the match had been evenly fought, but the writing was on the wall for the Rams, who failed to cope with Pioneer’s running game for much of the match. The likes of first-five Reece Calkin, midfielder Shayne Harmon, and winger Nikora Ewe created havoc when given space, and the Rams’ backline defence allowed them plenty, while loose forwards Jonte Miller and Himiona Haira made big metres around the breakdown.

The Rams’ forward pack, led by hooker Tua Levi, who was prominent in many of their charges, probably had the edge in the first 40 minutes, but they failed to capitalise, and the teams went into halftime with Pioneer 14–10 ahead, with both teams having scored two tries.

Tarquin Karaitiana narrowed the gap to one point early in the second half, but a poor exit kick led to Pioneer scoring in the corner and then the failure to shut down Ewe saw Pioneer take a 24–13 lead.

The Rams weren’t done, though, and a well-executed lineout drive led to a try to close the gap to six points with 16 minutes to play, but that was as good as it got for the visitors, as the home side charged home with four tries for a convincing win, to the delight of Pioneer captain Miller after the game.

“We executed our phases a bit more than they did. They had a few opportunities that went begging, but I felt that we built a bit of pressure and managed to hold them out,” Miller said.

“We’ve really been trying to get our backs firing, and Reece and Nikora and Shayne did today, and us forwards are trying to set a good platform for the brothers and feed our backline.

“It was a typical battle of the bridge. Both clubs have a lot of pride between the two, and it’s good to have them back in the A’s with us competing like they are.”

The win lifted Pioneer to third place, but Miller said his players aren’t getting carried away and are “just taking it week by week and try to keep progressing.”

East Coast 31
Martinborough 29

East Coast coach Guy Williams “was bloody impressed with the boys” after his injury-hit team dug deep to win a thriller against Martinborough at Whareama.

A Tipene Haira drop goal had given Martinborough a 29–28 lead with time almost up.

“However, there was another twist in the tail when the Coasties were awarded a penalty about 40m out and up stepped first-five Jack Wakeling, who coolly slotted the attempt to seal a victory against the odds.

“We had 16 players, and we lost one at halftime [flanker Thomas Williams went off injured], and I thought we might struggle in the last 20 minutes because Martinborough had a full bench, but they hung in there, and I’m bloody proud of the way they played, they just performed out of their skins; it was just a good team effort,” Williams said.

The early running went the way of the visitors, who scored three tries for a 21–11 halftime lead and were looking comfortable, but the second 40 minutes was all about the Coasties’ fighting spirit, as they gradually crawled their way back for a confidence-boosting win.

“It gave the boys a bit of belief that they’re just not making numbers up and they can actually do something and it’s really important for their confidence.”

Carterton 57
Eketāhuna 14

Tupou Lea’aemanu can’t stop scoring tries, and four more in the win over Eketāhuna has taken the prop, sometimes No.8’s tally to 14 from nine club games this season.

He wasn’t the only one getting in on the scoring action, with Bili Leberi also bagging a hat-trick in what was a convincing win but a lot closer than the score would suggest.

Carterton scored the opening try within three minutes, but then Eketāhuna spent the next 20 minutes camped in the home side’s half but couldn’t score. Carterton blew the game apart, scoring three tries in five minutes to take a 26–0 lead before the visitors scored for a 26–7 halftime score. Another three tries to the home team in the first 10 minutes of the second half ended the game as a contest.

Captain Daryl Pickering dictated play well at first-five, picking up good metres with his kicking game and running at the line strongly, while Leberi was a dangerous runner in broken play.

No. 8 BJ Campbell worked hard for Eketāhuna while rangy lock Sekove Finua ruled in the lineouts, often disrupting Carterton’s ball.

Greytown 8
Marist 21

Injured Marist captain Tom Campbell was happy to bag the four points from a scrappy game that never reached any great heights at Greytown.

Marist were without several key players because of injury but fielded two recent recruits: former Wairarapa Bush representatives Joe Tako at No. 8 and Soli Malatai on the wing. Both impressed, with Tako making several powerful runs and forcing turnovers at the breakdown, while Malatai made one telling play when he swooped on a loose kick on his own line, beat two or three tacklers and sent Hayden Cooper on a 60m run to the try line. Halfback Paddy Gluck scored Marist’s other try.

“It wasn’t our best performance, but as a whole, since we had a bunch of new people coming in, the continuity and the flow wasn’t there, and it was our older heads that kept everything together,” Campbell said.

“Greytown were good up front, and their forwards dominated large periods of the first half. and were probably unlucky not to get more points, but there were key moments they didn’t quite capitalise on.

The win was enough for Marist to retain their lead in the Chris ‘Moose’ Kapene Memorial Cup, while Greytown have yet to register a competition point and will probably need to win three of their remaining four games to have a chance of making the top four.

Provisional Points

Marist 14; Carterton 12; Pioneer 10; East Coast 8; Eketāhuna, Martinborough 6; Masterton Red Star 5; Greytown 0.

Senior Reserve Results:

Martinborough 27 Featherston 25, Greytown 48 East Coast 15, Carterton 24 Tuhirangi 50, Marist 10 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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