Two moments of flashy individual flair was all that separated Gladstone and Carterton in Tui Cui rugby this afternoon.
Gladstone’s 22-14 win was in part owed to some better rugby smarts, but ultimately it was solo efforts from Matt Macrae and Brad Griffith that proved the difference between the two neighbouring sides.
The hard running Macrae was the first to score when, after just ten minutes, he got the ball about 35-metres out charging back on the angle leaving a trail of sprawling Carterton defenders in his wake.
It was the only try of the first half and despite being under the pump for much of the first forty Gladstone led 10-nil at the break.
Griffith’s solo effort, although less dramatic, was brilliant in it’s execution as the feather-light first-five eighth showed the ball and then jinked back, slipping through a couple of tackles.
Gladstone had to dig deep for their spoils, twice playing with 14-men in the second half, once when midfielder Chris Renwick was sin-binned and again when lock Andrew McLean was shown a red card 12-minutes from the end.
Although being monstered in the scrums, when McLean was jettisoned from the game it seem to further lift Gladstone who went on to score a third try, by Andrew Smith, to close out the match.
Carterton scored two late consolation tries – Utah Walker and Darryl Pickering – in the dying minutes.
With a massive advantage at scrum time, plus a huge penalty count in their favour, Carterton will be disappointed to have come away from the match without a single championship point.
They missed a prime scoring opportunity in the first half when a series of scrums around the five-metre line made a try seem an inevitability. That they couldn’t convert it into points proved costly.
oor handling also badly hurt the home team.
Gladstone were brave on defence, led by their No.8 Eddie Cranston and blindside loosie Ryan Knell. They were also the more enterprising of the two sides with the ball in hand, full-back Cameron Hayton in particular making a huge contribution. Brad Griffith’s was a steading influence at firs-five eighth and Inia Katia busy at half-back.
No.8 Lachie McFadzean was Carterton’s standout player along with half-back Darryl Pickering.
In other results, Greytown edged out Eketahuna 27-20, Pioneer came away 33-31 winners over Martinborough and Marist beat East Coast 34-24.