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The final: Marist vs Carterton

 

Referee Matt Perry signals a try to Ala Malatai, obscured, to give Marist the lead. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

The Chris ‘Moose’ Kapene Memorial Trophy finalists have been found. CHRIS COGDALE and ROGER PARKER wrap up two exciting premier semifinals.

MARIST 30 MARTINBOROUGH 23

Marist overcame a deficit with a strong second half effort to pull away and beat a gutsy Martinborough 30-23 in an entertaining semifinal on Memorial Park No. 2.

Marist made the better start, going out to an 8-3 lead from a James Goodger penalty and a try to winger Hayden Cooper after 23 minutes, with Martinborough’s points coming from a wobbly drop goal to second-five Tipene Haira. The rest of the half belonged to Martinborough. Two penalties, including one from 45m in a tricky wind to Haira, along with a try to flanker and captain Jared Hawkins who crashed over following a series of pick and goes from 20m out, gave ‘Marty’ a 16-8 lead at the break.

Whatever Marist coaches Gerald Lologa and Joe Nuku, and captain Peter Beech said during halftime worked and the home side started the second 40 minutes with more urgency.

That paid off when substitute second-five Mick Te Whare scored wide out after a period of sustained pressure, followed by a try to replacement halfback Ala Malatai, who burrowed over by the posts to give Marist a 20-16 lead with 20 minutes to play.

A try to prop Sam Sioasi in the corner, superbly converted by James Goodger, who added a penalty with three minutes to play gave Marist an unassailable 30-16 advantage.

Martinborough finished with one of the tries of the season. Wairarapa-Bush representative winger Tristan Flutey started the move deep in his own half, beating several defenders before offloading to fullback Nathan Hunt who had too much pace for the defenders and scored in the corner.

However, it was too little too late as referee Matt Perry blew for fulltime.

Beech felt the second half effort was proof of the growing maturity within Marist.

“You can feel a real sense of calm with this team, even when we under the pump,” Beech said.

“Gerald and Joe have done a real good job of building up some other leaders in the team and there are more voices under the sticks now and it’s really reassuring when you under the posts that everyone is on the same page for what we should be doing.”

Beech said the team always enjoy playing towards the clubrooms end of the ground, but they needed more than that to overcome a determined opposition.

“We back our bench and we never let it get completely out of control, but we couldn’t keep giving away penalties like that because Tipi [Haira] was on fire.

“Our defence was sound, but they were scoring points, and we just had no ball and Gerald just said get some ball and you’ll score some points.”

The return of inspirational loose forward James Goodger from a foot injury that has kept him out of the game since May was not lost on Beech. The former NZ Heartland representative ruled the lineouts, was a nuisance at the breakdown, a strong runner with ball in hand, and kicked some clutch goals.

Not far behind was another No.6 – and another Goodger –Jake – who was in devastating form for Martinborough and showed why he earned rep selection last year.

Beech was full of praise for the often underrated Martinborough side who have struggled with injury and illness and have subsequently relied heavily on the club’s senior reserve team throughout the season.

“They just kept grinding away and some of the stuff they were doing in the tight, you could tell they had really worked on that.

“It was just ferocious, and it kept coming and coming, and when you’ve got Tristan and Nathan running those inside channels, they can make you look pretty silly.”
Marist came through the game with only one injury concern, a strained hamstring to veteran lock Cory Reid.
In the end though Beech was rapt to make the final for the second time in three years, and bouncing back after an abysmal 2021, when the team finished in the bottom four, after winning the title in 2020.

CARTERTON 22
GLADSTONE 17

Carterton are back in the Premier Grade final, but not without having to dig deep and then cope with some late pressure at Belvedere Road on Saturday.

Down 10-0 with a helpful breeze at their backs, Carterton rattled on 22 unanswered points to take a firm grip of the match before Gladstone produced a second Houdini effort in two weeks that ultimately fell short.

The Carterton coaching staff will be wondering what it is about the opening exchanges, but in a repeat of last week’s game against Marist, it was the visitors who struck first and looked the better of the two sides.

An early penalty by Jeremy Osborne was followed by the game’s first try when centre Bili Leberi finished off an extended period of play near the Carterton line with a well-taken lunge through the ruck defence.

Carterton registered their first points with a penalty, which was soon followed by what they believed was their first try, to Aseri Waqa. The elusive fullback scorched down the blindside, only to be called by the assistant referee, who saw a ruck infringement near halfway.

Carterton dominated the closing five minutes of the half and, rather than take a handy shot at goal, they opted to keep the pressure on and set up a series of short bursts at the line. A gap near the line finally appeared for second-five Taka Toamotu, who crashed over handy to the posts. With Sam Morison’s conversion, Carterton had clawed back to level terms at halftime.

Coach Neil Rodger later reflected on the importance of that late first-half score.

“We didn’t know it at the time, but it probably went a long way to us winning the game. If we had conceded any more points and not finished the half with that 7-pointer, I’m not sure we would have got past Gladstone.’’

Carterton found top gear early in the second half and, not for the first time in the match, turned down an opportunity at the posts, but instead elected to take a quick tap. Gladstone hung on grimly, and at times illegally, but could not stop the irresistible force that was Toamotu, who barged over for his second try.

Gladstone’s predicament worsened when referee Alistair Payne decided he had issued more than enough warnings for repeated infringing at second-phase play and sent their captain Ryan Knell to the sinbin.

Carterton was quick to pounce on the numerical advantage when left winger Fiula Tamielau expertly scooped a low skip pass and dived over in the tackle at the 65-minute mark, Carterton were up 22-10 and seemingly in control of the semifinal.

Gladstone was far from done.

Making noticeably better use of the wind, Gladstone firstly got into the right position before getting the necessary possession to pressure the Carterton defensive line.

Gladstone launched several one-out raids from the base of the ruck before Andrew Smith took a short pass at speed and used his lengthy limbs to stretch out across the line to dot down. Osborne converted and at 22-17 with about 10 minutes to play, it was game on.

However, Gladstone couldn’t find the late try that won the day and got them to the playoffs a week ago, despite moving the ball wide and finding overlaps from broken play. Carterton showed plenty of composure and turned the ball over at key points as the clock wound down to earn their spot in this week’s final, finishing off the game with a late penalty.

Rodger said little separated the two sides.

“We had the desire and were prepared to do whatever it was going to take to win. We attacked well and when we had to, we defended for long periods. That may have been the difference.’’

For Carterton, lock Lachie McFadzean was a colossus at lineout. He made the calls and was instrumental in winning a wealth of clean the ball for the home side.

COGGIE’S CALL:
Hodder-Steffert Cup

Greytown are through to the bottom four final, after Pioneer defaulted their semifinal, and will play East Coast in the decider.

Senior Reserve

Marist and Tuhirangi will meet in the Ryan Cup final. Marist upset top qualifiers Masterton Red Star 20-17 and Tuhirangi came from behind to beat Gladstone 18-13.

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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