Robbie Anderson will take the field for Eketahuna despite suffering a debilitating injury. PHOTOS/FILE
Expect big crowd at Jeans St
Clashes involving the four unbeaten teams and must-win games for the first-round losers highlight the second round of the Moose Kapene Cup. Times-Age sportswriter CHRIS COGDALE previews today’s games.
Gladstone v Greytown, Gladstone, 2.35pm [Rebecca Mahoney].
Greytown coach Mark Childs has claimed the underdog status for the clash between two of Wairarapa-Bush’s dominant clubs of the past decade.
Both started with comprehensive victories last weekend. Gladstone dispatched Eketahuna 22-8 at Eketahuna, and Greytown ran away in the second half to beat Pioneer 38-10.
Childs wasn’t surprised by Gladstone’s result.
“Stevie [coach Steve Thompson] was playing it down a bit last week, but we always see them as being a threat in the competition.
“And when we saw the team they put out, it’s pretty solid – so they’ve got the stock there,” he said.
“Obviously on their home ground, it’s going to be a big challenge for us, a huge challenge. We’d have to go into this match as underdogs.”
Childs said the key to victory would be to withstand the Gladstone pressure across the field.
“I expect them to have that same formula that Stevie’s had for years.
“They look to play mistake-free controlled rugby, are very good at the breakdown, and are good at slowing down opposition ball, legally or illegally.”
Greytown’s only injury concerns are in the front row with props Nicholas Hohepa [calf injury], and Blane Kete [arm injury] doubtful for the game.
Too tight to call. I expect very few points separating the teams. For the sake of picking a winner, when in doubt go for the home side.
Marist v East Coast, Marist, 2.35pm [Scott Andrew].
A confident East Coast will take on Marist in the clash of the two other unbeaten teams on Memorial Park No 2.
The Coasties kicked off their campaign with a 25-22 win over Martinborough, and Marist held on to beat Carterton 16-15.
East Coast coach Aaron Matenga said the win was a boost to their confidence.
“The confidence has always been there but to get that win it’s just grown a little bit more I think,” he said.
“We’ve still got a long way to go yet, and we’re just building game by game at the moment and not getting too far ahead of ourselves.”
Matenga expected a different style of game from what they got from Martinborough.
“Marist will be quite strong in the forwards, they’re under a good coach in Gerald [Lologa], and it will be a tight battle I reckon.
“I’m not writing Marist off at all. I think they’ll be strong across the board. They’ve got some young blokes in there who are quite talented.”
The Coasties are likely to field a similar line-up to last weekend’s, with only a few minor knocks and niggles to sort out at Thursday night’s training.Marist are likely to welcome back influential loose forward-lock James Goodger, who was confident that his troublesome left shoulder would withstand the physical demands of the game.
The NZ Heartland XV representative was expected to miss four games after partially dislocating it a preseason game.
The Coasties will bring their usual abrasive style and will pounce on any Marist mistakes, but there looks a lot more steel in the green and whites this season. Marist to make it two from two.
Martinborough v Eketahuna, Martinborough, 2.35pm [Alistair Payne].
Defending champions Martinborough and last season’s beaten semifinalists Eketahuna meet in a must-win clash.
That’s a point not lost on Eketahuna stalwart Robbie Anderson, who made a surprise appearance in their 8-22 loss to Gladstone last Saturday.
The gutsy midfielder has been struggling with Reiter’s syndrome [reactive arthritis] in the ankle, which was triggered from a case of strep throat suffered just before the start of the 2019 representative season, and was expected to sideline him for the club season.
“It’s a game-by-game thing at the moment, like some days it’s bad, some days it’s good,” Anderson said.
“In a game, it’s all right. You don’t really think about it and adrenalin takes over, but I can’t do anything training-wise for fitness, and I’m not the player I once was. But I can still tackle and pass, and that’s the main thing.”
Anderson expected a big improvement on what he called an ordinary effort last Saturday.
“Johan van Vliet comes back and there’s a couple of other boys who didn’t play last week due to illness and injury. They’re back, so we’re definitely looking a bit stronger,” he said.
“It’s vital for us. It’s a sprint to the finish, and it’s key that we start winning and winning early on.”
Martinborough had a 22-25 loss to East Coast and Anderson expected the southerners to come out firing,
“With Brucie [James Bruce] coaching, we expect them to play at tempo. Their strength is probably our weakness, in the backline, and they’ve got guys like Tristan [Flutey] and Timmy [Priest], but if we can control the tempo and beat them up upfront, we think we can come away with the spoils.”
Two completely different styles. If the Martinborough forward pack can secure enough ball to set the backline alight, they should come away with the win. The green and blacks narrowly in another tight one.
Pioneer v Carterton, Jeans St, 2.35pm, [Shay O’Gorman].
One thing is for certain – there’ll be a massive parochial crowd at Jeans St for the first premier game to be played on the ground in almost three years.
Pioneer started their first season back in the premier division after two years’ absence with a 10-38 loss to Greytown while Carterton staged a late comeback but went down 15-16 to Marist.
Pioneer manager Dean Goodin said the day is a big moment for the team and club.
“We’ve got new systems, new ways, new coaching, and are changing the guys’ attitudes a little bit,” he said.
“We’re trying to get rid of the old Pioneer ways and prompt the new Pioneer ways.
“We have a fresh committee, Richard Carroll is the new president and has done a superb job. We have two good coaches [Nathan Riwai-Couch and Stan Wright], who I think are up there with the best in Wairarapa.”
Goodin put last Saturday’s loss down to a lack of fitness.
“Some players are needing a bit of fitness. It was just fitness and some poor tackling, and our scrum got dominated a bit later in the game.”
He predicted a tough game from the visitors.
“Carterton will be hurting after their loss, so they’ll bring it to us a little bit, but we’re trying to make our ground like Otago’s ‘House of Pain” and we don’t lose on home ground.”
There will be plenty of passion and that will carry Pioneer a long way, but fitness issues are a concern. Carterton impressed with their gutsiness last Saturday, so I will pump for them narrowly.