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Unbeaten teams ready for battle

vs East Coast

Martinborough 2.35pm
[Alistair Payne]

Making their first up tackles and defending as a unit will be the key to East Coast upsetting Martinborough in the clash of the two unbeaten teams in the Lane Penn Cup.

The teams come into the game on the back of contrasting results, Martinborough having a hard-earned 31–15 win over Greytown in which the backs proved the difference, and the Coasties playing their get-out-of-jail-free card for an 18–17 win after Masterton Red Star missed a match-winning conversion in the dying minutes.

Coasties coach Guy Williams stressed the importance of making first-up tackles, saying that Martinborough probably boast the best backline in the competition and if the defence is not spot on, they make you pay.

Williams also wants to see the team playing as a unit and not as individuals, especially at the breakdown where Stars dominated at times last week.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: Matches between these two are invariably close, but on their home track and a hard and fast surface, Martinborough should have too much pace in the backs and come away with a comfortable win.

Marist vs Greytown

Memorial Park No. 2 [Chris Jefferies]

Both teams are coming off losses last week, Marist being soundly beaten 36–23 by Carterton and Greytown going down 31–15 to Martinborough.

Marist were a mixed bag against Carterton and looked good at times in the set pieces and had some genuine attacking threats in the backs in midfielders Tafa Tafa and Charles Mataitai, but there were too many instances where they drifted out of the game and gave Carterton’s dangerous backs the space to counterattack, which they did with ruthless efficiency.

Greytown were in the southern derby for a long time before a late try blew the score out in Martinborough’s favour, but there was enough there to suggest that when the chocolates are handed out at the end of the season, the experienced Greytown outfit will be there or thereabouts.

The Greytown pack had the better of the set piece in that game and should be a match for Marist, while in 43-year-old Tana Isaac, they have arguably the form loose forward in the competition, and in the backs, there is the experienced core of Nick Olson, Cyrus Baker and Carlos Rimene to guide the team around the paddock.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: It’s a really hard one to get a gauge on, and it should be tight. For the sake of not sitting on the fence and getting splinters, Marist by a whisker.

Eketāhuna vs Carterton

Eketāhuna 2.35pm [Kaleb Rowlands]

Eketāhuna got the monkey off their back last week with their first win in a year, 24–19, over Pioneer, but tomorrow’s match against the two-time defending champions is a big step up.

Coach Anthony Rowden is well aware of the threats that Carterton pose from anywhere on the paddock and the task ahead of his players in shutting down the counterattacking threats from the likes of veteran flanker Inia Katia, and exciting backs Aseri Waqa, Fiula Tameilau, Billie Leberi, and Taka Toamutu.

“They’re not scared to have a go from anywhere,” Rowden said,” That’s what we’ve got to be awake to, not just that they’re going to attack from inside our 22, it’s going to be from everywhere.”

Eketāhuna are boosted by the return of four or five players, which should give Rowden a full bench after only having 17 fit players last week.

Although Carterton captain Daryl Pickering was happy with the 36–23 win over Marist, he said there is a lot of improvement to come, and he wants his players to show more patience and cut out “those 50-50 balls.”

“If we take it to ground and don’t throw that offload, we’d probably score on the next couple of phases, so try to hold back once we break the line, get some field position and not be too excited and throw the ball away,” Pickering said.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: Eketāhuna will match, if not better, the Carterton eight, but the visitors have a distinct advantage in the backs, and they should come away with a bonus point victory.

Masterton Red Star
vs Pioneer

Colombo Road 2.35pm
[Shay O’Gorman]

Pioneer coach Victor Thompson is demanding more physicality and a better start for the vital clash between the two sides yet to register a win.

Pioneer coughed up 21 unanswered points in a disappointing first half against Eketāhuna before a spirited fightback saw them go down 24–19, and Thompson said they could not afford a repeat of that effort.

“If we can start well and put the pressure on them, we should be alright, but they are not easy beats, and we’re not going to treat them lightly,” he said.

Thompson is hopeful of having influential midfielder Nikora Ewe and exciting young winger Camryn Caffell back after missing last week’s game.

Masterton Red Star would have taken a lot of confidence from their one-point loss to East Coast after trailing by 15 points, a result which was even meritorious given the competition newbies were missing 12 regular players, including seven starters.

Coach Chris Senior said that would give his players a lot of belief, but he is unsure what to expect from Pioneer after their loss.

“That will be interesting; I don’t know if it will do us any favours or help us depending on their mindset, but if we can get a good start against them, it’s going to put some doubt back in their minds,” he said.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: If Stars can get under the skin of the Pioneer players early on, an upset could be on the cards, but Pioneer should have the edge, especially in the backs, and come away with their first win.

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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