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Top four spots on the line

Eketahuna [yellow and black hoops] taking on Greytown last month. PHOTO/KYLIE EVANS

Greytown tipped to extend unbeaten run
A country clash under lights, and teams in danger of losing touch of the top four, Times-Age sportswriter CHRIS COGDALE previews the fifth round of the Moose Kapene Cup



Eketahuna v Gladstone, Eketahuna

East Coast v Masterton Red Star, Whareama, 2.35pm [Tom Roseingrave]

East Coast showed last week that they are a real threat for the more favoured teams with 46-22 drubbing of Marist. This game against a dysfunctional Masterton Red Star is the ideal opportunity to further hone their combinations.

The visitors’ forward pack will ensure a reasonable share of possession but once the ball gets out among the backs that’s where it tends to go wrong. East Coast are the type of team who relish using any loose ball or poor kick.

Their abrasive loose forward trio should ensure a good amount of turnover ball and they have the speed and skill in the backs to take full advantage of any opportunity. East Coast are in seventh place and a bonus point win would keep them in contention for the top four.

Coggie’s prediction:

Would love to say Masterton Red Star will push East Coast hard but can’t see it. Another 50 pointer.

Marist v Greytown, Memorial Park No 2, 2.35pm [Vaughan Warburton – Marlborough]

Have Marist reached the crossroads in their season?

It may be too be early to say that but they’re certainly in danger of losing touch with the top four.

It doesn’t get any easier for the green and whites against the in-form and unbeaten competition leaders.

The two teams’ latest results could not be more contrasting. Marist were thumped by East Coast and Greytown came off big winners over Carterton.

Greytown head the points table on 19 points, with Marist sixth on nine points.

Fitness could be the difference in this match.

Marist’s forwards will gain a good supply of ball and the backs have the talent to use it. Twice in recent matches though – against Eketahuna and East Coast – they have given up decent leads and been run over towards the end of those games. This is where Greytown’s superior conditioning should come to the fore.

Coggie’s prediction:

Greytown to maintain their unbeaten run. A bonus point victory.

Carterton v Martinborough – Carterton 2.35pm [Scott Andrew]

Fourth versus fifth, so there’s plenty riding on this game. Martinborough have the better form, coming off the back of a come-from-behind 43-41 defeat of Gladstone, while Carterton were dealt a rugby lesson in their 7-35 loss to Greytown.

Martinborough coach James Bruce predicted his team would take a few games to hit their stride and he knows what last week’s win will do for the team’s confidence.

Likewise, Carterton coach Chris Senior won’t be panicking after what was effectively one poor 40 minutes of rugby against a very good Greytown side.

Carterton should gain an advantage in the forwards, especially at set pieces, but it’s in the backs where Martinborough could prosper, with the Priest brothers – Tim, at first-five, and Alex at fullback – and former Wairarapa-Bush winger Nathan Hunt in sublime form.

Coggie’s prediction:

Really hard to call. Like the way Martinborough are building into their season, so will pump for them narrowly.

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