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Showdown for unbeaten teams

Marist vs Carterton

Memorial Park No.2,
2.35pm [Alistair Payne]

Marist will field close to a full-strength team for the game of the round between the two unbeaten teams in the Chris ‘Moose’ Kapene Memorial Cup premier championship.

Only centre Charles Mataitai is sidelined, sitting out the third and last match of a suspension for a tip tackle in the win over Gladstone.

The green and whites have won six games on the trot, which assistant coach Peter Beech puts down to working on the small things.

“There’s some really good unity there and a lot of belief built up,” Beech said.

“Guys have come back in, and the squad is really settled now, and there’s some continuity with the boys, and some are stepping up really well. Tafa Tafa is playing really good rugby at the moment, and Stan Wright Junior
as well, so we’re really happy.”

Beech expects to face a different lineup than the one they faced on Lane Penn Trophy finals day, a game Marist won 24-22. He believes that solid defence is vital to shut down Carterton’s dangerous ball runners.

“Our big focus is making those first-up tackles on those big ball runners, getting into shape and having one low and one high because if those guys make a break, they have lots of guys running off them. and our kicking game will be vital as well.

“We’ve been working on the kick chase, and as long as we’re kicking it out and not giving guys like [fullback] Ace Waqa space to run.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: The toughest challenge for Carterton after three big wins, while Marist are building nicely. Hard to know, but for the sake of picking a winner Carterton in a close one.

Pioneer vs Greytown

Jeans Street,2.35pm
[Steve Newson]

There’s plenty riding on the clash between the fourth and fifth-placed teams at Pioneer’s home ground. Greytown are on 13 points, and a win would take them well clear of Pioneer on eight points, who must win to remain in top-four contention.

Pioneer had a rocky start to the championship, with heavy losses to Martinborough and Carterton before bouncing back with a 74-7 thumping of Gladstone.

Coach Victor Thompson put the slump down to injuries and delays in the clearance of their Fijian players but was thrilled with the effort against Gladstone.

Although happy with his team’s attack, Thompson said they need to tidy up their defence.

“We know we can attack, but we have to sharpen up defensively and stop bleeding points and get up and close their attack down earlier.”

He said it’s vital that Pioneer turn up and play their own game against a resurgent Greytown side, who are building into the business end of the season strongly, with the inclusion of former Hurricane Andre Taylor in recent games and the likely return of former Wai-Bush prop Lewis Bush from Hawke’s Bay.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: It’s always difficult to win on Pioneer’s home patch, but there’s no team better at peaking at the right time than Greytown. Toss a coin – Greytown narrowly.

Eketahuna vs Martinborough

Eketahuna, 2.35pm
[Pete Semmens]

Martinborough will start warm favourites to record their third win of the championship against Eketahuna, who are searching for their first win.

Martinborough have been one of the form teams of the season, having won the Lane Penn Trophy. Their only slip-up came with a controversial last-minute loss to Marist.

If they take anywhere near a full-strength side north to Eketahuna, they should be way too good for the home side, who have been struggling for numbers.

The only sticking point could be the famed Eke mud, which has tripped many of a favoured team over the decades.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: Hard to see Martinborough beaten.

East Coast vs Gladstone

Whareama, 2.35pm
[Chris Jefferies]

The battle between two teams struggling for numbers, with both likely to be propped up by their senior reserve sides, who play the curtain-raiser.

Matters are so dire, with another six players ruled out with injury and illness, that coach Ritchie Robertson has called on 53-year-old Mike Peacock, 42-year-old Mike Cooney, and Joe Feast [in his late 30s] to fill the void.

Despite their dearth of players, the Coasties have two players in superb form – hooker George Parke who had an outstanding debut for wai-Bush on King’s Birthday Monday, and utility Epeli Rayaqayaqa, who puts in an honest 80-minute every game.

A win for Gladstone would keep alive their top four prospects, and a bit like Greytown, Gladstone are adept at finding enough points to sneak into the semifinals year after year.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: Gladstone just, but neither result would surprise me.

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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