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Wairarapa Bush Club Rugby Round 2 Preview

Gladstone size up champs

COVERED: Pioneer halfback Joseph Thompson is sandwiched between two Marist defenders in the Tui Cup Match played at Memorial Park last Saturday. PHOTO/CHRIS KILFORD
COVERED: Pioneer halfback Joseph Thompson is sandwiched between two Marist defenders in the Tui Cup Match played at Memorial Park last Saturday. PHOTO/CHRIS KILFORD

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

Wairarapa Times-Age



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