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Tight games likely in round four

Pioneer vs Martinborough

Trust House Memorial Park 2.35pm [Kaleb Rowlands]

Pioneer will need to lift their game if they are to compete with unbeaten Martinborough on the club’s Old Timers Day.

Pioneer picked up their first win of the season last week, scoring a bonus point victory in a scrappy encounter with premier newcomers Masterton Red Star, and any repeat of that effort could see the “blue and reds” on the wrong end of a big scoreline.

One area of concern for coach Victor Thompson was the inconsistency of the forward effort at the set piece and breakdown, where they were bettered by Stars at times.

“Our scrum was dominant at points and not at others, and I couldn’t put my finger on it,” Thompson said.

Despite that indifferent performance, Thompson intends to take on the Martinborough forwards up “through the guts,” an area where East Coast had success last week in their 39–20 loss.

However, he is conscious of the threat posed by the talented Marty backline and said, “sticking to the structure and game plan” and being “pretty tight, especially around the backs, because they’ve got some pretty sharp useful backs” will be crucial if they are to upset the Lane Penn Cup leaders.

Thompson is anticipating a good, intense battle between the two closely connected clubs, saying, “We’re looking forward to it and no doubt they’re looking forward to it, so it should be a bit of humdinger.”

Pioneer will be without key playmaker Reece Calkin for tomorrow’s clash.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: I cannot see Martinborough beaten in this, especially on the artificial turf, which will suit their talented backline.

Greytown vs Eketāhuna

Greytown 2.35pm [Alistair Payne]

Greytown coach Kerin Herlihy expects a typically bruising forward battle when his team host an Eketāhuna side full of confidence after their upset 37-36 win over two-time defending champions Carterton last weekend.

“Eke are always physical up front, especially at scrum and ruck, so we will have to meet them there,” Herlihy said.

“It also looked like they scored a couple of handy broken play tries against Carterton so we will need to be cautious about turning over ball where they can counter.”

Eketāhuna have been the surprise package of the competition, kicking off with a last-minute loss to East Coast, followed by a win over Pioneer and the defeat of Carterton, whereas Greytown have made an indifferent start, with a big win over Masterton Red Star followed by losses to Martinborough and an 18–17 loss to Marist.

This should be a tough physical confrontation in the forwards, and that will be no more evident in the loose forward battle between Greytown 43-year-old Tana Isaac and Eke’s Sam Gammie and BJ Campbell.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: Greytown are better than seventh place suggests, and they might just sneak the chocolates.

East Coast vs Marist

Whareama 2.35pm
[Shay O’Gorman]

Both sides would’ve taken a lot from their games last week, with Marist kicking a late penalty to edge Greytown 18–17 and the Coasties pushing unbeaten Martinborough all the way in losing 39–30.

Marist stepped up from a disappointing loss to Carterton the previous week and showed character to come from behind. Their set piece is efficient, and they have talented backs with the likes of Paddy Gluck, Tafa Tafa, Charles Mataitai, and Hayden Cooper all capable of changing a game with a moment of inspiration, but far too often, they fail to put it all together during a game.

Eats Coast took a big step up last weekend after their scratchy one-point win over Masterton Red Star the previous weekend, and their small but rugged forward pack was more than a handful for Martinborough.

Coasties coach Guy Williams was disappointed they didn’t get more than the four-try bonus point from that free-flowing game, helped in no small measure by referee Alistair Payne, but he said the players “played like we asked them to play”, and it wants a continuation of that tomorrow.

Williams believes the key to getting the better of Marist will be to shut down their big ball-running forwards, and the defensive line has to come up together and deny the talented backline space.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: Whareama is more often than not a difficult place for visiting teams, but Marist should have the better depth on the bench, and that might sway it their way.

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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