Carterton and Gladstone scrap for possession in the mud. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV
Greytown and Carterton prevail in the mud to set up an intriguing Chris ‘Moose’ Kapene Memorial Cup final. Times-Age sportswriter CHRIS COGDALE wraps up Saturday’s semifinal action.
Two tries in the first 15 minutes set the platform for an outstanding Carterton victory in atrocious conditions in Carterton.
Playing with the persistent wind in the first half, the home side made the early running with a penalty to Sam Morison, followed by a try to winger Fiula Tameilau, who ran on to a lovely offload from Inia Katia to dot down.
Tameilau was back in the action again three minutes later when his scything run was halted short of the line, only for captain and halfback Daryl Pickering to crash over from an ensuing ruck for a 15-0 lead.
It wasn’t until the second quarter that Gladstone spent a sustained period on attack, but they couldn’t penetrate the stubborn Carterton defence, with their only points coming from a Jeremy Osborne penalty.
Despite playing into an ever-increasing wind in the second half, the home side weren’t afraid to chance their arm, a tactic which paid off, with their final two tries long range efforts.
The first came after Carterton stole a Gladstone lineout throw, and winger Aseri Waqa ran from his own 10m line and passed to centre Aisea Sakopo, who was stopped short of the line.
From the ensuring 5m scrum, flanker Gus McKinnon passed to Tameilau for an easy try.
The second was a 95m solo effort to Sakopo after the Carterton forwards forced a turnover on defence.
The home side spent the last 15 minutes with 14 men after replacement prop Hone Vella was sent off for elbowing a Gladstone player in the head.
Gladstone did finally cross the line through Tim Griffith, but it was too little too late.
Pickering praised the effort of his talented side in trying conditions.
“Coming into this we said we were going to continue to play, and you could see that, and we scored a length-of-the-field try,” he said.
“The weather halted that a bit, but the defence was massive again this week.”
Pickering saidt the fast start proved crucial in the end.
“We had the wind behind us and needed to play at the right end of the field and I’m just glad we came away with some points in that first half.
“Gladstone always find a way to get to a semifinal and we were worried coming here today, we knew they would be a different side than a few weeks ago, and they always seem to pop up at the right end of the season, and I’m just pleased we got things done.”
EAST COAST 5
All the points came in the first half in a tough semifinal played in ever worsening conditions at Greytown.
Tries to halfback Sam Walton-Sexton and veteran loose forward Tana Isaac, both converted by Moomoo Falaniko, who also kicked a penalty, gave the home side a 17-0 lead playing with the wind in the first half.
The visitors scored close to halftime, after a series of phases close to the line, but that was as good as it got in conditions described by Greytown assistant coach Paul Pottinger as tough true winter conditions.
“At one stage the rain was that heavy it was hard to see the far end of the field, it was just torrential,” he said.
“Both teams played pretty well in the conditions and there weren’t that many mistakes which was testament to both teams.”
Pottinger felt that Greytown had control for most of the game, but the conditions made it hard to finish off moves.
Prop Lewis Bush and flanker Blane Kete stood out for the victors.
The win keeps Greytown’s prospects of a rare unbeaten season alive, with only Saturday’s final to play.
Eketahuna and Pioneer will play off for bottom four honours after Saturday’s semifinals.
Eketahuna were too good for 2020 premier champions Marist, running away for a 27-5 victory, while Pioneer grounded out a tough 28-24 win over Martinborough, who finished the championship winless.
Tuhirangi and Masterton Red Star will meet in the Ryan Cup final.
Tuhirangi went out to a 12-0 first half lead over Puketoi and had to call on all their defence to hold on for a 12-10 victory.
Masterton Red Star pulled away in the second half to beat Carterton 24-5, with two outstanding long range tries in the mud to fullback David Siloi.
In the President’s Cup, East Coast easily beat Marist 31-7 to set up a final against Gladstone, who thrashed Greytown 42-5.