Tipena Haira scoring a try for Martinborough against Red Star at Memorial Park on Friday. Martinborough won 75-7. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV
It was business as usual in Friday night’s Wairarapa-Bush Tui Cup premier rugby matches as the top four teams continued to distance themselves from the chasing pack.
Masterton Red Star and Martinborough kicked things off on the Memorial Park turf and it was the winless Red Star side who surprisingly opened the scoring with a well-worked try.
Martinborough hit back a few minutes later when halfback Chance Ropiha crashed over, but it was Red Star who had the better of the first 20 minutes.
They reaped the rewards from their forwards keeping things tight and running with positive intent, but their lack of ability to finish when in try-scoring positions meant they were never able to build any scoreboard pressure.
Martinborough continued to throw the ball around even though the slippery surface made handling difficult, and they paid the price with several costly errors.
They finally clicked into gear near the end of the half, with two quick tries opening up a 21-7 lead at the break.
Red Star may have produced one of their best halves of the season to date, but it counted for little as Martinborough found their groove in the second spell.
They had left some of their regular starters on the bench – including Wairarapa-Bush backs Tipena Haira, Nikora Ewe and Tim Priest – and the introduction of those players proved too much for Red Star to handle.
By the end of the match, the score had blown out to 75-7 in Martinborough’s favour, meaning they have scored 180 points in their two matches against Red Star this season.
For Red Star, the search for their first win of the season will continue next week when they take on a Marist side who pushed Gladstone to the limit in their Friday night clash.
Gladstone won 41-36 to increase their unbeaten streak to eight matches, and they have an eight-point buffer at the top of the points table.
Carterton romped to a 48-10 win in their match at Eketahuna to maintain their second spot on the ladder.
They are only one point clear of third-placed Greytown, who beat East Coast 28-14 at Memorial Park.
Martinborough are fourth on the table with 28 points and there is now an 11-point gap between the top four and the chasing teams.
Next weekend the matches will be played on Saturday afternoon once again, and the highlight of the round will be a top-of-the-table clash between Gladstone and Carterton at Gladstone.
Martinborough 75 East Coast 7; Gladstone 41 Marist 36; Carterton 48 Eketahuna 10; Greytown 28 East Coast 14.
SENIOR RESERVE RESULTS
Puketoi 40 Gladstone 19; Pioneer OB 56 Eketauna 15; Pioneer 23 Featherston 19; Greytown 38 Martinborough 0; Tuhirangi 45 Carterton 12; Marist 78 East Coast 0.