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The semifinals conundrum

 James Goodger, with ball, was in brilliant form before being sidelined with a foot injury.


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Six teams remain in contention for the Chris ‘Moose’ Kapene Memorial Cup semifinals with two rounds to play. The championship has already thrown up several upset results and nothing would surprise, but it’s time to get off the fence and look at the conundrum of the premier rugby championship semifinal race.

Marist 21 points

Leaders Marist have arguably the toughest run home, starting with third-placed East Coast at home on Saturday, followed by second placed Carterton away.

A win in either game would secure a top four finish, while two wins would give the ‘Green and Whites’ home advantage. With eight points back to fifth-placed Martinborough, two losses with bonus points could even be enough.

Marist have probably the best set piece in the competition, and a talented backline to utilise a steady supply of ball. If mercurial flanker James Goodger recovers from a foot injury, that will give the 2020 champions another string to their bow.


Carterton 17 points

Another team with a tricky finish starting with an away trip to Pioneer and ending against a confident Marist.

Carterton could finish as high as first with two wins or could miss the top four with two losses, whereas one win should be enough to make the cut.

Carterton were outgunned by fierce rivals Gladstone last Saturday and will need to get over the disappointment of that loss quickly but won’t find the trip to Jeans Street easy.

If they rediscover their early season form, a top two finish would be a strong probability, but can they win their remaining two games?


East Coast 16 points

Marist away and Martinborough at home await the Coasties, who are in a slightly awkward position after last Saturday’s draw with Pioneer.

A win over in-form Marist would set them up nicely to push for a top two finish in the last round. A loss though and it could be winner take all in the final round against the underrated Martinborough at Whareama.

One win might be enough to qualify, but the Coasties may potentially need two wins to stay in the hunt.


Gladstone 15 points

[Wai-Bush website shows 14 points]

Gladdy arguably have the best run in, with games against the two bottom-placed teams, with Greytown at home followed by Eketahuna away.

Neither game will be easy against two proud clubs determined to finish the round-robin on a high.

There was much to like about Gladstone’s effort against Carterton, where they dominated the forward exchanges and set alight a dangerous attacking backline.

It’s hard to see Greytown or Eketahuna getting up over a confident Gladdy, and a home semifinal is a real possibility.


Martinborough 13 points

Ihe Namana and Pioneer will have to beat Carterton on Saturday to keep their semifinal hopes alive. PHOTOS/FILE

Marty probably need two wins to sneak into the top four. The first should come on Saturday against winless Eketahuna, however, the second is a trickier proposition away to East Coast, although they have already had the better of the Coasties this season, having won their ‘town and country’ clash.

Martinborough could still sneak into the top four though with one win but will then need to rely on other results going their way.


Pioneer 11 points

Pioneer’s fate could be decided on Saturday with their home game against a hurting Carterton.

A win keeps alive their hopes, whereas a loss relegates them to the bottom four playoffs.

Two wins might not even be enough to break into the top four.

Nothing would surprise with Pioneer, and it would be foolish to write them off, but are they good enough?


Greytown 6 points

Eketahuna 2 points

Neither team can make the top four and are playing for pride. Both would love to be the spoiler, look for one of them to throw the cat among the pigeons.

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