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We are the champions . . . again

First five-eighth Jeremy Osborne scoring Gladstone’s final try in the Tui Cup final. PHOTO/JADE CVETCOV


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Gladstone delivered a masterclass in finals rugby to defend their Tui Cup title with a dominant rout of Carterton on Saturday at Memorial Park in Masterton.

As good as Gladstone were, Carterton would have been distraught after producing an error-ridden performance at the worst possible stage of the season in the 32-10 loss.

Gladstone captain Richard Puddy said they had talked all week about shutting down Carterton’s attack.

They did that with a huge amount of success on Saturday, and it was only in the 78th minute that Carterton found their way over for a try.

Puddy paid tribute to his team’s commitment on defence in his post-match speech.

“These boys will give 100 per cent every single week – we talked a lot about Carterton’s attack this week and we were hell-bent on not letting them in.

“We almost got there, but you can’t argue with what anyone did out there – it was awesome.”

Gladstone delivered blow after blow in a relentless first-half display which Carterton never recovered from.

It was Puddy who opened the scoring when halfback Inia Katia spotted space on the blindside afterg a lineout, and put his captain away for a clear run to the line.

Carterton answered with a penalty through halfback Isaac Bracewell, but that was as good as it got for them in the first half.

A minute later, a strong break by winger Epeli Rayaqayaqa had Carterton on the back foot, and Katia stretched out from a ruck just short of the line to score.

In the 22nd minute, Gladstone scored a memorable team try after a quick tap from Katia and break by second five-eighth Mat Macrae, who then popped a perfectly-timed pass for Rayaqayaqa to score their third.

At 19-3, Carterton may have felt like they could have mounted a comeback in the second half with the wind at their backs, but Gladstone struck a telling blow right on halftime when lock Andrew Smith crashed over
in the corner.

The second spell continued in the same fashion, with Gladstone hot on attack in the early stages.

They added a penalty to their tally to extend their lead to 27-3, and it stayed that way until the final 10 minutes.

Carterton’s performance was summed up perfectly in the dying stages when a dropped ball on their own line was quickly pounced on by Gladstone who sent it wide for first five-eighth Jeremy Osborne to score.

Corey McFadzean scored a consolation try for Carterton, but by that stage the match was well and truly over.

Both teams should be commended for their willingness to play expansive rugby, but it ultimately brought about Carterton’s downfall as they were guilty of throwing loose passes and not showing enough urgency with ball in hand.

Carterton captain Lachie McFadzean said Gladstone’s defence had been stifling, but they were not happy with their own performance.

“We certainly struggled there but we were inaccurate ourselves and didn’t play how we wanted to play.

“It was probably a credit to them slowing our ball up.”

For Gladstone, loose forwards Ryan Knell and Eddie Cranston were in the thick of everything, while Katia and Rayaqayaqa were at their explosive best in the backs.

Matt Gain and Caine Osborne carried strongly throughout the match for Carterton, while Nick Mason showed some classy touches from fullback.

But it was Gladstone’s day as they secured back-to-back titles, and will they will be aiming for a three-peat in 2019.

In the Hoddert-Steffert Cup bottom four final, Marist beat East Coast 39-29.

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