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Old Timers boost for Marist

Round two of the Chris ‘Moose’ Kapene Memorial Cup kicks off tomorrow with coaches and managers checking team numbers as injuries and illness take a toll early in the season.

The round also features the annual referee exchange with Marlborough, which has been going on for more than 50 years, and another Old Timers Day, this time at Marist.

All teams, and their supporters, will be hoping the stormy weather forecast for much of the North Island today and tomorrow will skirt past Wairarapa.

Pioneer vs Carterton

Jeans St, 2.35pm [Alister Payne]

In what shapes as the game of the round, two sides with very different results in round one come head-to-head in Masterton.

Pioneer succumbed to competition pacesetter Martinborough last Saturday when discipline and defence slipped below expectations.

Carterton, meanwhile, showed a clean pair of heels in the second half to notch 40 points against Eketahuna.

Pioneer assistant coach Tama Leaf, who played in the forwards last season but has been sidelined with an injury this year, wants his charges to lead rather than chase the game tomorrow.

“When we have ball in hand, we can be lethal on attack, but we have to get that side of our gaming going from the off.”

Pioneer has been working on defensive line speed this week with a view to shutting down Carterton’s dangerous backs.

They have also been working on lineout efficiency after a wobbly first half last week. Two yellow cards didn’t help Pioneer’s cause last week, and keeping on the right side of the referee will be vital if the game is on the line in the latter stages.

Carterton has two new Fijian imports from outside the region to bolster the playing squad, and the forward pack in particular. They also have some newly agreed season-long commitments from the wider squad which will provide some sought-after depth on the bench.

The forward battle will be one to watch tomorrow, particularly at scrum time.

PARKER’S PICK: Tough one to call here. Pioneer got to 20-26 early in the second half last week but let the momentum slip. Carterton showed exactly what they are capable of when push came to shove against Eketahuna. If the weather stays dry, it could be a tight but high-scoring affair. I’m going to lean toward home-ground advantage – Pioneer by a penalty.

Marist vs Greytown

Memorial Park 2,

2.35pm [Chris Jefferies]

It’s Old Timers Day at Marist tomorrow, and the likely extra support might be required if the home team are to get the better of visiting Greytown.

Greytown put together a solid performance on their Old Timers Day last week and gave a clear glimpse of what they can do with ball in hand. With a broad mix of representative and veteran players in the lineup, Greytown also has All Blacks Sevens rep Gillie Kaka in the backline to pose a serious threat to any defence.

Marist was made to work hard to edge Gladstone last week and will be without the services of powerful centre Charles Mataitai, who received a three-week suspension from the judiciary on Wednesday night for a spear/tip tackle in that match.

With Kaka lining up in the midfield on the other side of halfway, Marist must make first-up tackles to compete for the win.

Assistant coach Peter Beech said playing with plenty of urgency could be vital tomorrow.

“We’ve been working on an up-and-go approach this week. Make a tackle, then get back to your feet and be ready to make another one. We will need to limit their space, and our defensive line must be strong on the day.

“Our kicking game must also be accurate … finding land, not hand, or we could end up chasing them round the park.”

PARKER’S PICK: Another tricky prospect. You get the feeling Greytown is about to piece together a big game, but Marist will have the incentive to put together a good performance in front of the old blokes. Another close one, Marist by a solitary point.

Eketahuna vs Gladstone

Eketahun No.1, 2.35pm

[Dali Tui, Thames Valley]

A good old country rivalry. Both teams are coming off a loss and are struggling a bit for depth as they cope with injuries.

Eketahuna will be without the exciting Nimi Biutoka, who has a hamstring injury and won’t be rushed back.

There’s usually a bit of pride at stake in these encounters, and tomorrow’s match will likely be a forward battle for the most part.

PARKER’S PICK: Expect plenty of passion. Neither side will give an inch and it could come down to who has more desire in the last 10 minutes. Gladstone by three.

East Coast vs Martinborough

Whareama, 2.35pm

[Damon Smith, Marlborough]

For the first time this season, East Coast will have 15 players available for selection.

It’s just as well, because Martinborough will roll into town in top form.

East Coast coach Richie Robinson is clear about the task ahead.

“Right across the park, Marty are strong. They are clearly ahead of everyone else at the moment.”

PARKER’S PICK: The Coasters won’t lack for effort but they will do well to keep in touch. Martinborough by double digits.

Wahine Toa vs Freyberg OB

Palmerston North, 2.35pm

Freyberg is something of an unknown quantity as a new team this year.

Wahine Toa have benefitted from a week off with a bye and will be keen to cut down on turnovers for this match. If they can play like they did against OBM a couple of weeks ago, Wahine is a good chance to get the win and firm up a spot in the top four on the points table.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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