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Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Crunch time arrives for Greytown

Eketahuna vs Greytown

Eketahuna, 2.35pm [Shay O’Gorman]

Executing better will be key for Greytown to resuscitate their stalling Chris ‘Moose’ Kapene Memorial Cup campaign in their tricky away encounter with Eketāhuna.

Last year’s runners-up have yet to register a point after three rounds. Their top four prospects are hanging by a thread, and another loss would almost certainly end their semifinal chances, although coach Kerin Herlihy believes the team are not too far off the pace.

We played reasonably well last week, losing to a good Marist team effort, so we will not be looking to change too much this week. Just need to prepare well and be clear and confident about how we want to play,” Herlihy said.

“While we have played well, our execution has been a bit off in key moments, so we need to be a little tidier in those moments.

“The guys have a great attitude and have played some good rugby. [They] probably had one or two halves of footy that we are not proud of, but outside of that, everyone is working hard and is committed to getting better.”

On the plus side, Herlihy has plenty of experience to call on from the likes of brothers Tana and Tavita Isaac, Cyrus Baker and Nick Olson, and “their knowledge, sharing their experience and setting standards” is invaluable.

He also expects no surprises from the home team.

“They were pretty physical up front in the first round and pretty combative at the breakdown through their loose forwards. We expect them to be much the same this week.”

Eketāhuna go into the game on the back of a heavy loss [57–14] to Carterton, although for much of that game, they were more than a match for the defending champions with territory and possession even, and back on their home track will prove a difficult hurdle for Greytown to overcome.

Eketāhuna are on six points, two points off the top four, and a win would keep alive their prospects, whereas a loss could seriously damage their chances.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION:

It’s very difficult to gauge. I will pump for the home side, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it went the other way.

Marist vs East Coast

Marist, 2.35pm [Alistair Payne]

The form team of the competition, up against the injury-ravaged team that does not know when or how to give in, leads to an intriguing battle.

Marist maintained their unbeaten start to the championship with an efficient 21–8 win over Greytown, while East Coast, with only one player on the bench who replaced an injured player at halftime, fought back from 21–11 down to pip Martinborough [31-29] with a last-minute penalty to Jack Wakeling.

Coasties coach Guy Williams was rightly proud of his players’ determination, but they will find Marist another step up, and he reckons his players are “going to have to do something a little bit different to get over those guys.”

If the green and whites weren’t already strong enough, the recent addition of former Wai Bush reps No. 8 Joe Tako and lock Matt Masoe has added more depth to the forward pack, while outside back Soli Malatai brings an extra dimension to an already dangerous backline.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION:

One has to admire the Coasties’ never-give-in attitude. Marist should just take it, but again, nothing would surprise me with East Coast.

Masterton Red Star vs Carterton

Colombo Road, 2.35pm [Scott MacLean]

On the face of it, this looks the most one-sided of the four games.

Carterton showed their attacking brilliance in their 57–14 demolition of Eketāhuna, scoring their tries in clumps in five and 10-minute periods in a game where territory and possession were relatively even.

The Masterton Red Star Rams were well and truly in the game against Pioneer, trailing 24–18 with 16 minutes to play, but their backline defence was cruelly exposed in the dying stages as their opponents ran riot, scoring four late tries.

The Rams forwards showed they could match most other packs and had the better of the early stages when these two met in the first round, and their platform led to them taking an early lead, only for Carterton to overpower them for a 57–15 win.

Rams coach Chris Senior would’ve been disappointed with their late capitulation against Pioneer and will demand a response, but whether that will be enough to trouble Carterton for the full 80 minutes is doubtful.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION:

The Rams will be competitive, especially in the forwards, but Carterton should notch up a bonus-point victory.

Martinborough vs Pioneer

Martinborough, 2.35pm
[Kaleb Rowlands]

There’s always something special in clashes between these two clubs, with a number of family connections and players have fronted for both clubs.

Martinborough thought they had it won over East Coast last week when Tipene Haira kicked a late drop goal, only to concede a penalty at the death, whereas Pioneer showed for one of the rare occasions this season what a dangerous side they can be when they spread the ball wide in running over the Rams in the last quarter.

Martinborough coach James Bruce has faced an injury crisis for much of the season and has done well to put out a competitive team most weeks. Despite losing five front-rowers, the forwards have performed admirably, with loose forwards Ryan Knell and Cody Cunningham leading the way, while in the backs, Haira has directed play well, and veteran winger Nathan Hunt has impressed with his finishing prowess.

Pioneer have their threats, too, with captain Jonte Miller and Himiona Haira to the fore in the loose forwards and the likes of first-five Reece Calkin, midfield back Shayne Harmon and the versatile Nikora Ewe capable of splitting open the defence when given the space.

Martinborough, on six points, would improve their top four prospects with a win, whereas Pioneer [10 points] would strengthen their semifinal chances with victory.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION:

Toss a coin because very little usually separates these two, but Martinborough to sneak it on their home track.

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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