Soli Malatai continued his try-scoring run with an important five-pointer in Marist’s win over Pioneer. PHOTO/FILE
WAIRARAPA CLUB RUGBY
Marist captain Peter Beech was relieved and happy to take the five points in a scrappy error-ridden match at Jeans St.
Both teams underwent significant changes from the previous weekend, with illness and injuries hampering team selections. Beech felt that being able to call on players such as backs Ala Malatai, Malatai Malatai, and Micky Te Whare proved the difference, with all three playing pivotal roles.
“It was never going to be easy; I think Pioneer are a top-four team, and both teams are mixing and matching with covid and injuries and things like that,” Beech said.
“The main thing was to get through this week, have the week off, and rebuild from there.”
Pioneer had the better of a first half littered with basic handling errors and poor skill level. Marist had the ascendancy in the set pieces, particularly in the lineouts where Pioneer struggled to win their own ball.
The battle at the breakdown was brutal, with the home side’s loose forward trio of Himiona Haira, Joe Roberts, and captain Jonte Miller gaining a slight edge.
“They probably got to us a bit with the sackings,” Beech said.
“Himiona Haira – I played Wai-Bush with him in 2020, and I don’t know how he hasn’t been picked again; Jonte – he just keeps going all day as well; Joe is in the Bush squad; some of these guys are putting their hands up week in and week out.”
Although the game was a poor spectacle, some moments of brilliance led to tries.
Two tries gave Pioneer a 15-11 halftime lead, the first to Nikau Harmont from a pinpoint cross-kick from fullback Reece Calkin and the second to big prop “Buddha” Mason after a jinking run from first-five Oakland Dean-Pene.
All of Marist’s first-half points came from two penalties and a try to blindside flanker James Goodger before he hobbled off with a foot injury.
Replacement loose forward Marcus Ale gave Marist the lead for the first time early in the second spell, but then a calamitous attempt by Marist to run the ball out from their own line resulted in a player knocking on and gifting Pioneer an easy seven points and a 22-18 lead.
Marist’s superior fitness told in the final 15 minutes with tries to Ala Malatai, Soli Malatai, and lock Tom Campbell securing a valuable bonus point victory.
“Some of the times you saw the boys running the ball, it was pretty, but what we need to work on now is flowing on and not shutting off for 10 minutes and then playing amazing for two,” Beech said.
“We’re learning every week. It’s only week two of the points competition, and this was our hiccup game last year where we dropped a game to them, so it’s good to get in two games away and get two wins.”
Carterton needed a strong second-half performance to come away with a tough win over a determined Greytown at Greytown.
Carterton had won their ‘town’ clash 47-12, but coach Neil Rodger expected a much sterner contest from Greytown – and he got it.
“We knew they were going to be completely different from when we played them the first time. They really took it to us. It was a real physical contest, and certainly, in the first half, they had the better of that, but in the second half, we got our act together,” Rodger said.
“It was everything we expected it was going to be because it was for the Finn Yeats cup [Toiora Cup]. We’ve never had that before, and they were desperate to hang on to it.”
Rodger said that winger Fiula Tameilau and fullback Aseri Waqa had outstanding games. Waqa made several 60-70 metre runs from deep in his own half that opened up the Greytown defence.
Rodger also expected Greytown to be serious contenders with several key players to return over the coming weeks.
EAST COAST 34
East Coast did the damage in the first half to run out comfortable winners over winless Eketahuna at Whareama.
Tries to Jahrome Graham, Jack Wakeling, Geoff Gibson, Will Gordon, and Joseph Robertson gave the Coasties a 34-7 lead at the break, but the visitors scored the only points of the second spell.
“The first half, I was pretty stoked with the way we played,” East Coast coach Aaron Matenga said.
“It was pretty up-tempo, and there were minimal mistakes, but the second half was a different story, so it was a game of two halves.
“We lost momentum when the game went to golden oldie scrums.
“That took away the impact we brought off the bench. We never adapted properly and started throwing 50-50 passes and stuff like that.”
Matenga said that Eketahuna never gave up, and he expected them to cause problems for some of the higher-placed teams throughout the competition.
MARTINBOROUGH vs GLADSTONE
The game was deferred and would now be played over Queen’s Birthday Weekend.
CHRIS ‘MOOSE’ KAPENE MEMORIAL CUP POINTS
Marist, Carterton, East Coast 10; Pioneer 4; Greytown 2; Martinborough 1; Gladstone, Eketahuna 0.
SENIOR RESERVE RESULTS
East Coast 12 Tuhirangi 24; Greytown-Carterton 18 Masterton Red Star 26; Martinborough 27 Gladstone 41; Pioneer 12 Marist 43.