Gladstone size up champs
GLADSTONE have good reason to fancy their chances of pushing defending champions Eketahuna all the way in their Tui Cup premier division rugby match at Gladstone tomorrow.
The home side kicked off their campaign with a hard-fought 19-11 victory over Carterton last weekend and will be keen to reverse the result of last year’s grand final when a second-half blitz by Eketahuna saw them take away the spoils.
Gladstone’s best chance of victory on this occasion probably lies in the ability of their forwards to dominate possession and therefore restrict the influence had on the game by an Eketahuna rearguard including two of the best attackers in the competition, Sam Monaghan and Paul Tikomainavalu.
There is enough experience in the Gladstone pack to successfully meet that challenge. Lock Andrew McLean and hooker Richard Puddy are two who like nothing better than a physical confrontation and John Stevenson is of similar ilk. If they can largely quell the fire in the Eketahuna eight and at the same time give elusive runners like Inia Katia and Cameron Hayton in their own backline the chance to strut their stuff what would be a minor upset could be on the cards.
Greytown chalked up over a half-century of points against Martinborough in their opening game but they can anticipate sterner opposition from East Coast in their clash at Whareama. East Coast might only have a handful of last season’s squad back in action again, but they gave Eketahuna a whale of a game before losing 13-10 in their opening encounter and will have taken huge confidence from that result. Interestingly it was two ex-East Coast players in Byron Karaitiana and Nick Olson who were prominent on the scorecard for Greytown last weekend. The southerners do have good depth at both back and forward, certainly enough to have them start warm favourites to make it two on end.
Marist were being touted as a serious contender for Tui Cup honours even before this season began and while they had to work overtime to beat Pioneer 17-13 first game up they displayed the sort of potential that suggested those early predictions may not be far off the mark. They travel down the road to take on Carterton at Carterton tomorrow and this should be another close contest. Marist might have more attacking brilliance in the backs, but Carterton have some pretty durable customers in the forwards and they won’t make it easy for the visitors.
If opening-round form counts then Pioneer should be too strong for Martinborough in their match at Martinborough. However, it would be a brave punter who would count out Martinborough this early in the season and especially when they are playing in front of their ever-loyal band of supporters. Pioneer were a mixed bag against Marist, good when they were stringing passes together on attack and not so good when falling off tackles. Overall though it was a handy start and they seem certain to be a competitive unit.
|2015 Moose Kapene & Tui Cup Senior Round 2|
|18-Apr||Carterton Premier||vs||Marist Premier||Carterton Field 1|
|18-Apr||East Coast Premier||vs||Greytown Premier||Whareama 1|
|18-Apr||Gladstone Premier||vs||Eketahuna Premier||Gladstone 1|
|18-Apr||Pioneer Premier||vs||Martinborough Premier||Pioneer 1|
|2015 Burger King Senior Reserves Round 2|
|18-Apr||Carterton Senior Reserves||vs||Marist Senior Reserves||Carterton Field 1|
|18-Apr||East Coast Senior Reserves||vs||Greytown Senior Reserves||Whareama 1|
|18-Apr||Gladstone Senior Reserves||vs||Masterton Red Star Senior Reserves||Gladstone 1|
|18-Apr||Pioneer Senior Reserves||BYE|
|18-Apr||Tuhirangi Senior Reserves||vs||Eketahuna Senior Reserves||Tuhirangi Field 1|