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Tui Cup semifinalists found

Lock Tom McKay was a strong ball runner for Eketahuna. PHOTOS/JADE CVETKOV

A late comeback wasn’t enough for Carterton to make the Tui Cup semifinals, and Marist needed a late try to win the Moose Kapene Cup. Times-Age sportswriter CHRIS COGDALE reviews the final round of games before the playoffs.

A brilliant individual try to replacement centre Brock Price, converted from the sideline by Sam Morison, wasn’t enough for Carterton to scrape into the Tui Cup finals.

The seven-pointer had drawn the scores level 23-23 with Eketahuna, with four minutes left on the clock, after Carterton had trailed by 11 points after 50 minutes. However, Carterton needed to win to sneak into the semifinals, and Eketahuna did enough to hold on and secure third place.

Eketahuna controlled much of the game at Carterton, with their forward pack, led by their superb loose forward trio of captain Kirk Tufuga, Johan van Vliet and BJ Campbell, dominating possession and territory.

It was the backline though that had the first say on the scoreboard. A lovely pass from centre Robbie Anderson gave winger Connor Davis space on the outside and he sprinted 35 metres to score wide out.

Carterton’s promising first-five Sam Morison slotted a simple penalty for 3-5, before van Vliet busted through some soft defence to extend Eketahuna’s lead. Two further Morison penalties narrowed the score to 9-10 at halftime.

Prop Max Tufuga burrowed over from close range to score Eketahuna’s third try four minutes after the resumption, and fullback Dane Hopa was on the end of simple overlap to seal the bonus point for four tries.

Goalkicking looked as though it might be Eketahuna’s Achilles heel, with all four conversions missed, with two from very handy angles.

Down 9-20, Carterton fired into action and came close to scoring from a series of forward surges, which resulted in van Vliet being sin-binned for a professional foul. Carterton opted for the scrum and were awarded a penalty try, with the Eketahuna pack in disarray.

Referee Shay O’Gorman signals a try to Eketahuna’s Max Tufuga.

Eketahuna first-five Nick Birchfield finally found his kicking form and stretched their lead to 23-16, before Price’s heroics.

Kirk Tufuga, No 8, was at his bustling best on defence and with ball in hand for Eketahuna, while lock Tom McKay underlined his potential with another strong game.

For Carterton, evergreen lock Lachie McFadzean and blindside flanker Logan Wakefield impressed in the tight and loose, while Morison, apart from a couple of early missed touches from penalties controlled play well from first-five.

Marist needed a try to second-five Chris Matthews in stoppage time to beat Gladstone 36-29 at Gladstone and secure the Moose Kapene Cup for the first time.

The scores were locked up at 29-29, when Marist were awarded a penalty in front, only for a player to have a brain explosion and tap the ball instead of settling for the kick.

Marist were awarded two more penalties wideout, which eventually led to Matthews dotting down under the posts, to lock in home advantage for the semifinals.

Greytown also secured the all-important home advantage with a clinical 26-18 victory over East Coast at Whaereama.

The Greytown forward pack were always in control and set the perfect platform for the backs to work from.

Tries to centre Teihan Brown and winger Logan Prendeville-Hebenton gave Greytown the early lead, before Fijian winger Billy Levri crossed for the home side.

Greytown kept the scoreboard ticking over with penalty kicks from Raniera Petersen to finish deserved winners.

Defending champions Martinborough clinched the forth semifinal spot with a 47-19 demolition of Pioneer at Trust House Memorial Park.

Pioneer had the better of the forward exchanges but their defence was cruelly exposed by the slick Martinborough backs, who ran in seven tries.

Scores

[home teams first]

Premier Moose Kapene Cup

Gladstone 29 Marist 36; East Coast 18 Greytown 26; Carterton 23 Eketahuna 23; Pioneer 19 Martinborough 47

Standings – Moose Kapene Cup.

Marist 26*; Greytown 25, Eketahuna 22; Martinborough 20; Carterton 19; East Coast 17, Gladstone 15; Pioneer 1.
* Marist deducted three points for a team sheet breach in the first round.

Semifinal draw

[home teams first]

Tui Cup: Marist v Martinborough; Greytown v Eketahuna.

Hodder-Steffert Cup: Carterton v Pioneer; East Coast v Gladstone.

Senior Reserves – Ryan Cup Final

East Coast 11 Greytown 8.

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