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Saturday, July 20, 2024
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Weekend try-fest on the cards

Martinborough vs Carterton

Martinborough, 2.35pm [Chris Jefferies]

The game of the round pits last weekend’s two big winners in the South section against each other, with the winner most likely to lock in one spot in the Lane Penn Trophy final.

Martinborough coach James Bruce reckons it’s one of the games you look forward to as a coach, and he can’t wait for the two entertaining teams to take the paddock.

“It will be a cracker,” Bruce said.

“They’ve got some pretty cool backs and guys who like to run with the ball, and that suits us, too, so it will be hammer and tongs.”

The battle up front is sure to be hotly contested between two evenly matched forward packs, but it is in the backs where the contest is likely to be decided, with both rearguards full of attacking threats.

Former Chiefs and Highlanders utility back Robbie Robinson was a revelation for the ‘green and blacks’ in their big win over Gladstone, and his game management from first-five will be vital in gaining field position and then releasing attacking threats in Nathan Hunt, last week’s hat-trick hero Shane Colton, promising youngster Michael Buick, and Alex Priest.

Carterton, though, also have plenty of attacking weapons, and none more so than fullback Aseri Waqa, who loves broken play and will make the opposition pay for any wayward kick or missed tackle. Utility back Ben Brooking impressed in his debut for the Maroons last Saturday, and it will be interesting to see where veteran Inia Katia lines up after the usual outside back took the field as blindside flanker against Greytown.

Bruce said Martinborough will be near full strength, apart from a few niggling injuries, adding there’s enough depth in the club to cover those.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: Would love to sit on the fence, but for the sake of picking a winner – Martinborough in a high-scoring thriller.

Eketahuna vs Pioneer

Eketahuna, 2.35pm [Alistair Payne]

Coach Victor Thompson is confident Pioneer can continue their winning start to the season when they travel to Eketahuna for the clash between the two first-round winners in the North section.

The winner will take a big step towards making the Lane Penn Trophy final, and Thompson reckons he has the team good enough to make the decider, although he is conscious of the home side’s ability in the wet with rain forecast for tomorrow.

“Wet weather is a good leveller, and no one plays wet weather rugby better than Eke on their home patch, and that will work in their favour, but we’re pretty confident we’ve got what it takes to adapt,” Thompson said.

He is also aware of the threat posed by Eke’s two Fijians, fullback Nimix Baleitabuki and rangy lock Ratu Koroirabudi, who scored five tries between them in the win over East Coast.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: Hard to go past Pioneer, given their better depth, but never dismiss Eke at home and if the rain does come.

East Coast vs Marist

Whareama, 2.35pm [Pete Semmens]

East Coast coach Ritchie Robertson is lamenting the lack of commitment of players as he struggles to put a team on the paddock for the second week in a row.

The Coasties kicked off their season against Eketahuna last Saturday, playing the first 10 minutes with 13 while they waited for senior reserve players to arrive after playing against Masterton Red Star in Masterton.

One of the 13 was 53-year-old prop Mike Peacock, who stepped into the fold at late notice and played 80 minutes. To go down by only three points [31-34] in the end was a commendable performance by the Coasties, adding more full to Robesrton’s frustration.

He said the team were only training once a week, but even then, only eight turned up for Wednesday night’s session, and the veteran coach is at his wits end on how to proceed, with players not wanting to play premier rugby and content with playing senior reserves.

“We’ve got 12 bloody good boys out there, but we’ve got no wingers, no second-five, and the locking department – we are weak there too,” Robertson said.

“Anything we do is a bonus. How can you organise a real good training, and all we could play was school games and keep up the morale of the ones that were there.”

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: Given the Coasties’ woes, Marist to win this comfortably. Greytown vs Gladstone

Greytown, 2.35pm
[Steve Newson]

Like his East Coast Coast counterpart, Gladstone assistant coach Charlie Bargh is tearing his hair out putting together a team to travel to Greytown.

Bargh said he and head coach Stan Wright are still waiting for a few numbers to turn up, and they will rely on the senior reserves, who have the bye tomorrow, to fill the team.

“We get three back this week and four back the week after, so hopefully, by next week, we might have a half-decent team,” Bargh said.

“We’ll get there, and it’s only the first couple of games, so we just have to work our way back into it.”

Both teams were on the end of big losses in the first round and, on the face of it, have little chance of making the Lane Penn Trophy final, so will probably treat the final two rounds of the competition to prepare for the premier championship.

COGGIE’S PREDICTION: Given Gladstone’s lack of playing numbers, Greytown to take the win.

WOMEN’S RUGBY

Wairarapa Wahine Toa have their first game in the Manawatu premiership at their new home venue at the SolwayShowgrounds tomorrow kicking off at 1pm.

However, it won’t be a walk in the park up against last season’s beaten finalists Kia Toa, who racked up a century in their opening match last Saturday.

SENIOR RESERVES

Defending champions, Tuhirangi host Pioneer in the clash of two first-round winners.

Two unbeaten sides, Greytown and Masterton Red Star, meet in the curtain-raiser at Greytown, East Coast are at home to Marist, and Martinborough play Carterton.

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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