Gladstone had too much class for Carterton winning 27-5 in a Tui Cup semi-final at Trust House Memorial Park in Masterton this afternoon.
In what was scheduled to be a home game for the top qualifiers, the match was moved into town because of last weekend’s flooding.
Gladstone will be back at the park next Saturday for the Grand Final against Martinborough who knocked over defending champions Greytown, 18-13.
After ripping apart Marist on the artificial turf the previous round, Carterton would have been delighted with the late change of venue. It looked once again to be to their likening, dominating the opening stanzas.
But despite the early pressure Carterton weren’t able to find any chinks in the Gladdy armour. This they paid dearly for and by half-time were trailing 20-nil.
Living off scraps in the first half Gladstone were ruthless in making sure every opportunity counted. They barely got out of their half in the first 20-minutes, but when they eventually did they scored.
From a clean line-out take on the Carterton 22, hooker Richard Puddy was fed back the ball and bolted 15-metres down the touch line to score the opening try. Brad Griffith’s sideline conversion in the wet and blustery conditions was superb.
Although a set-back, it didn’t seem to dampen Carterton’s spirit as they continued to grind away at the Gladstone defence. It couldn’t be breached however and Carterton became frustrated. When penalised on half-way they were marched back another ten metres because of back-chatting the ref, enabling full-back Tim Griffith to slot a penalty, 10-nil Gladstone. Little brother Brad added a second penalty shortly before the break and then on the stroke of half-time centre Cameron Hayton seized on a Carterton mistake, toeing the ball ahead to score Gladstone’s second try.
Carterton had to score first in the second half, and that they did early when No.8 Lachie McFadzean took a quick penalty tap and flicked the ball out to young brother Corey to quick-foot it to the try-line.
Still in the hunt, Carterton continued to apply most of the pressure. They were given a helping hand when Gladstone lost their captain, prop Jon Stevenson, to the sin-bin on about the three-quarter mark. But this only helped to strengthen Gladstone’s resolve scoring a third try and seal the result.
When shifted in from the wing to half-back Inia Katia had a massive game for Gladstone. His box-kicking was pin-point, passing direct and on defence made his tackles count. No.8 Eddie Cranston led a forward pack that was tested at times, but ultimately worked better as a unit.
Meanwhile, in the Hodder Steffert Plate Pioneer beat East Coast 45-7 and Marist defeated Eketahuna 7. There was a big upset in the Senior Reserves with Masterton Red Star suffering their first defeat of the season, beaten 20-19 by Martinborough, while Tuhirangi were 10-nil winners over Puketoi