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Senior seeking some consistency

Carterton vs
Masterton Red Star

Carterton 2.35pm [Chris Jefferies]

Finding consistency is the goal for Masterton Red Star coach Chris Senior heading into this afternoon’s clash against the two-time defending champions.

The newcomers to the premier championship have shown some encouraging signs in their 18–17 loss to East Coast and a 24–15 defeat to Pioneer, games that Senior feels they should have won, only to fail to take their opportunities.

The loss to Pioneer was particularly frustrating for Senior after Stars took a 10–5 lead into halftime but conceded three tries midway through the second stanza, two from poor errors.

“We were the better team but didn’t know how to win,” Senior said.

“In the first 40 minutes, we probably had three or four opportunities that we should’ve finished either with shots at goal or tries, and you go into the half at 20–5, it’s a different game.

“We are 100 per cent a bunch of young guys who have come up from thirds [senior reserves], and we didn’t inherit any premier players or experience, so these guys are all learning as they go, and once they get that experience in two or three years time, they’ll be much better for it.

“It’s just trying to find some more consistency around those little things, like we get into good attacking positions and a dumb mistake that knocks us back, so if we can execute a little bit better, that will give fewer opportunities for the opposition but also create more pressure on them.

“The forwards are pretty strong, and the backs are slowly getting better; it’s all learning for us, and as long as we take the next step forward, we’ll see what happens later in the season.”

Senior is aware of the threat of tackling a talented Carterton side hurting from their shock 37–36 loss to Eketāhuna last Saturday.

“Eketāhuna did us no favours; put it that way, but the longer we stay in the battle, you never really know what could happen.”

Carterton will go in, though, as the hottest of favourites, and Stars can expect some backlash from their below-par effort in Eketāhuna.

Stars’ forward pack showed enough to suggest they could match it with most other packs, but the Carterton eight will be a step up from the past two weeks, especially with how they cope with the charges from the likes of prop Tupou Lea’aemanu and the Biumaiwai brothers Malakai and Isereli, who relish any space around the fringes.

Then there are the counterattacking skills of veteran flanker Inia Katia and exciting backs Aseri Waqa, Fiula Tameilau, Taka Toamutu and Billy Leberi to contend with, and if Stars don’t make their first-up tackles, it could be a difficult day at the office.

This afternoon’s match is a bit of a homecoming for Senior, who coached Carterton for several seasons, including leading them to the 2018 premier final in which they lost to Gladstone 32–10.

Entry to this afternoon’s game is a gold coin donation, with all money going to the Carterton RSA.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: This is a game that Carterton should win comfortably, and a 40–50 point margin would not surprise.

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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