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Two at the top in Lane Penn Cup

Masterton Red Star 14
Martinborough 19

A try to replacement no. 8 Cody Cunningham earned Martinborough a hard-fought win over a brave Masterton Red Star at Colombo Rd.

However, the drama wasn’t over as Stars – who were reduced to 14 men after a player was yellow carded for a skirmish in the aftermath of the try – looked to have equalised beside the posts with time almost up, only for referee Kaleb Rowlands to rule out the try because of an obstruction.

Two brilliant long-range tries to wingers James Whitby and Conall Doyle had given the visitors a 12–8 lead early in the second half, while Star’s points had come from a try to prop Seth Pona and a penalty to centre Junior Malatai. Two further Malatai penalties gave Stars a 14–12 lead, and an upset looked on the cards.

The Martinborough forward pack, though, gradually gained dominance at scrum time, and it was from a 5m set piece that Cunningham charged over. Then there was the disappointment of Stars’ potential matchwinners being ruled out.

Martinborough ran the ball from deep in their half in an effort to score the bonus point fourth try, but in the end, they had to settle for the four points and are now joined by Carterton with one round to play in the Lane Penn Cup.

Masterton Red Star again belied their battling status and matched their more experienced opponents for much of the 80 minutes, but basic errors such as failing to find touch and dropped passes cost them, with the visitors’ two counterattacking tries starting from the home side’s mistakes.

Despite coming close to breaking their losing start to the season, Masterton Red Star coach Chris Senior was proud of the effort of his young team.

“We’ve got no one who has played 100 games, no Heartland players, and our forward pack, we have an average age of about 22 or 23, so it’s pretty good damn good, and we’re not far away,” Senior said.

“If you go back eight weeks, we probably thought we’d be getting beaten by 50–60 points, and all of sudden, we’re actually competing and should be winning.

“We’re probably two or three weeks behind where we should be, but it’s pleasing, and we’re improving. We’re never happy not to win, but we’re getting there.”

Greytown 10
Carterton 50

Carterton coach Garth Thomson was surprised at the margin of victory over their fierce rivals in a typically physical encounter at Greytown.

The win moved the two-time defending champions equal with Martinborough in the race for the Lane Penn Cup with one round to play, and also retained the prized Grant Cup, which is played for between the two clubs.

Carterton scored eight tries in a dominant performance that underlined that they would again be hard to knock off their perch, but Thomson said he wasn’t “expecting a blowout like that because Greytown have been playing some pretty good rugby, and we thought it would be a pretty hard game”.

“It was still physical, but we got a few tries at the end, and that blew it out for us.”

Thomson added that the win was set up by the forwards, who set a good platform for the backs to attack.

“Our scrum was reasonably dominant, and that’s something we’ve worked hard on to set that platform, and our lineout is starting to function a bit better, and we got pretty good ruck speed, and that gave us clean ball.

“Our big ball runners carved up a few metres and were able to retain possession better because we’d had guys who’ve made breaks and end up losing the ball in contact, but we’re starting to improve.”

Marist 27
Eketāhuna 10

Marist scored 20 points in a dominant first 40 minutes and looked like they would run away for a big victory, only for Eketāhuna to stage a mini-revival in the second half.

“We set a pretty good platform at the start then we didn’t have that same fluidity in the second half,” Marist captain Tom Campbell said.

“We blew them out of the park in the first 30, and then after that, we pulled the handbrake up a bit, and that’s something we need to work on, having that full 80.

“Once they [Eketāhuna] got a bit of a sniff in, some of their big Fijians had a field day with some of the gaps we had, and we didn’t really get past two or three phases in the second half.”

Campbell singled out form winger Hayden Cooper as having another outstanding game, while hooker Sam Siaosi was at the forefront of many of Marist’s forward surges.

Marist moved to within a point of Carterton and Martinborough and are an outside chance of lifting the Lane Penn Cup if they score a big win over Masterton Red Star and other results go their way.

Pioneer 17
East Coast 13

East Coast coach Guy Williams is rueing an error-ridden performance that handed Pioneer their second win of the season at Jeans St.

“We made three mistakes, and they capitalised and scored three times,” Williams said.

“We tried to pass it from our own line and knocked it on, and they scored from the scrum. There were just too many mistakes, and we had our opportunities, but once again, we didn’t quite get across the line; we blew them, and that was the most frustrating thing.

“We’re just not consistent enough; we play well for 10 minutes, then we go off the boil and stop thinking.”

The Coasties were without several first-choice players, mainly out with injury, and Williams hopes that their return in the coming weeks will lead to improved performances.

Despite his own team’s shortcomings, Williams said Pioneer played well in patches and made the most of their opportunities.

PROVISIONAL POINTS

Martinborough, Carterton 24; Marist 23; Greytown 16; Eketāhuna 16; Pioneer 12; East Coast 11; Masterton Red Star 4.

SENIOR RESERVE RESULTS

Tuhirangi 50 Martinborough 5; Marist 19 Gladstone 19; Greytown 27 Carterton 29; Pioneer 14 East Coast 10.

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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