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Race for top four – doing the maths

Tim Priest in action for Martinborough. The club must beat Pioneer to have a chance of retaining the Tui Cup. PHOTOS/FILE

One round remains to decide the winners of the Moose Kapene Cup and the semifinalists for the Tui Cup. Times-Age sportswriter CHRIS COGDALE looks at the prospects of each of the seven contenders.

Greytown, Marist [both 21 points]

Reece Severn on the attack for Marist in their charge towards the Moose Kapene Cup.

The winner of the Moose Kapene Cup, for the most points after the round-robin, looks likely to be one of these two teams.

Given the topsy-turvy nature of the competition, and with both teams facing away games against tricky opposition, nothing is guaranteed.

Semifinal places are almost certain for both teams, but with only four points back to fifth-placed East Coast, the potential is there for either to miss out.

Bonus points while losing should be enough to secure semifinal spots, but both will target the all-important home advantage for the playoffs.

The calculation is simple for both. If Greytown beat East Coast at Whareama and Marist defeat Gladstone at Gladstone, they will lock-in home semifinals. Losses though open the doors for other teams.

Should the two finish the weekend tied at the top of the table, Marist would lift the Moose Kapene Cup, having beaten Greytown in the round-robin.

The competition rules state that the first criteria to break a tie is the “highest number of wins in results of matches played between the two teams in the current season.”

Eketahuna [19 points]

Eketahuna [gold and black] must beat Carterton to qualify for the top four.
Eketahuna’s fate is in their own hands and who would have predicted that after starting the season with losses to Gladstone and Martinborough?

Since then they have shown their mettle with wins over Marist, Pioneer [away], Greytown, and East Coast [away].

Victory away to Carterton on Saturday would secure a semifinal and depending on other results, could potentially give Eke home advantage. A loss, without a bonus point, though could see them slip as low as sixth.

A win, plus losses for Greytown and Marist would also give Eke their second consecutive Moose Kapene Cup championship.

Carterton [17 points]

Like Eketahuna, Carterton must win on Saturday to grab a semifinal spot. The problem is they face off against Eketahuna.

A loss, with one or two bonus points, could still be enough to progress, but that would require East Coast, Martinborough, and possibly Gladstone to lose.

It’s straightforward for Carterton, win and head to the top four; a loss more than likely means a place in the bottom four playoffs.

East Coast [17 points]

A win on Saturday should be enough for the Coasties to qualify for their first Tui Cup semifinal for several years.

Standing in their way are the experienced Greytown unit, who are seeking their own place in the top four.

Even a win without a bonus point might not be enough for the Coasties, depending on the outcome of the Eketahuna-Carterton clash.

A Carterton victory, with Eketahuna picking up two losing bonus points would complicate matters even further and probably end East Coast’s Tui Cup hopes.

A four-try bonus point would assure the Coasties their place in the top four.

Martinborough [15 points]

The equation for the defending champions is easy. Beat the struggling Pioneer at Jeans St and hope that Carterton and East Coast lose and book a place in the semifinals.

On the face of it, a bonus point win over Pioneer would look straightforward but there’s always plenty of feeling in matches between these two clubs, and Pioneer would love nothing better than to beat their traditional rivals.

Gladstone [13 points]

A lot of variables are required for the 2017 and 2018 champions, and last year’s runners-up, to make the top four.

First, Gladstone must beat in-form Marist, probably with a bonus point, and that’s the hardest part going on this season’s form.

They must then hope that Carterton, East Coast, and Martinborough all lose.

Highly unlikely but one certainty is that if Gladstone make the semis, no team would want to play them, given their experience at the business end of the season.

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