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Wai-Bush win with brilliant late try


A stunning last-gasp long-range try gave Wairarapa-Bush a deserved win over Whanganui and the momentum to go on and win the Hurricanes Heartland Under-20s Championship played in Bulls over the weekend.

Wai-Bush were untroubled in thrashing Poverty Bay 53-0 on Sunday, completing the clean sweep.

To cap an outstanding two days, 11 players were then named for the Heartland squad for the Hurricanes Under-20 Championship.

The Chris Senior coached team went into the weekend’s play seriously underdone after Horowhenua-Kapiti had defaulted their first-round fixture the previous weekend.

That lack of match play was evident late in the second half of Saturday’s clash with Whanganui. After being locked at 17-17 at halftime, Wai-Bush scored two tries to lead 29-17 and were looking comfortable only for players to cramp up or come off injured, opening the door for Whanganui, who scored three quick tries to lead 34-29 with time almost up.

Wai-Bush had a chance to go to the corner and a lineout penalty but kicked the ball dead. Whanganui kicked from the scrum only for a Wai-Bush player to knock the ball on inside their 22. The “Green and Reds” then forced a turnover and moved the ball from one side of the field to the other, and after some clever interchanges between the loose forwards, Riley Walton-Sexton scored under the posts for a straightforward conversion for Ben Alvis

“It would have been a shame to lose it,” Senior said, “because we were the way better team, but they relied on our mistakes, and they counterattacked beautifully but didn’t create much, so it would have been gutting to lose.

Senior said Eketahuna hooker Dezharne Maslen-Smith and Martinborough winger Conall Doyle were desperately unlucky to miss out on Heartland selection.

The 11 players named are Carterton prop Cam Cartwright, lock/loose forward Junior Falesui [Masterton Red Star], locks JJ Gillies [Martinborough] and Mataio Kelly [Masterton Red Star], and loose forwards Sexton-Walton [Greytown], Thomas Williams [East Coast],
and Mitieli Waqa [Carterton].

In the backs, Carterton first-five Alvis is joined by Martinborough midfielder Michael Buick and Marist duo – halfback Alesa Malatai and winger Hayden Cooper.

Senior said the goal now is to go back-to-back next year with all but five players still eligible for another crack at the title.

Celtic stay unbeaten


Celtic United continued their winning ways, beating defending champions Wairarapa College A 41–34 in the last round of matches before the Netball Wairarapa Holmes Construction Premier One semifinals.

The victory stretched Celtic’s perfect record to 10 games, and they will go into the playoffs as clear favourites to win their first title in six years. Their opponents in the top four semifinals will be old foes Harcourts, who lost 45-49 to Jo Kelly and Co Carterton Maroon.

Waicol, the 2021 and 2022 winners, will play Carterton Maroon, who are hitting form at the right of the season.

Opaki Vixens confirmed their favouritism in the bottom four, easily accounting for second-placed Tuhirangi White.

Vixens will pay St Matthew’s, who defaulted their clash with Jo Kelly and Co Carterton Rebels, in the semis, with Tuhirangi and Rebels playing the other semifinal.

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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