The final score fairly represented the merits of the two teams when Greytown beat Eketahuna 17-15 in their Kapene Cup premier division rugby match at Eketahuna on Saturday.
Greytown, winners of both the Kapene Cup first round competition and the Tui Cup main championship title last season, deserved their narrow success because of the edge, albeit a slight one, they had in the forward exchanges.
Whereas two slick backlines basically cancelled themselves out apart from the odd piece of individual brilliance, Greytown’s pack tended to make more metreage than their Eketahuna counterparts from the rolling mauls and short passing rushes, areas of play which became the main attacking weapon of both sides through the course of the game. Invariably leading the way for Greytown in those phases were Regan Pope and Gareth Van Dalen, both of whom gave performances which must have made the Wairarapa-Bush selectors sit up and take notice.
Pope, who would have been the front-runner for any player of the match award, was also a force to be reckoned with in the lineouts, a sphere in which Sam Marshall-Wilson also shone for Eketahuna.
The scrums painted an interesting picture, Greytown being dominant through the first half and Eketahuna having the ascendancy in the second, especially after veteran prop Brendan Walker entered the fray. Walker, who has had more than 300 games in the Eketahuna jersey, knows every trick in the scrum book and used them to his advantage.
It was a couple of Eketahuna players who took the eye in the backs for their ability to make space for themselves in confined quarters. First-five Sam Monaghan and wing Paul Tikomainavalu were aggressive in intent and quick on their feet, and while centre Robbie Anderson had few chances to show his attacking wares there was an impressive soundness about his play for the home team as well.
Greytown often utilised the strength of second-five Phil Aporo as a target man for first phase ball and he generally managed to bash and crash his way through through the first line of defence before being grounded. On the rare occasions centre Teihana Brown and wing Tavita Isaac had room to stretch the legs they looked full of running.
Tavita Isaac, Raymond Oakley and Regan Pope scored tries for Greytown and Oakley also landed a conversion. Sam Monaghan and Tom Meuli were the try scorers for Eketahuna, and Meuli also kicked one penalty and one conversion.
Pioneer maintained their unbeaten record with a decisive 40-5 win over Carterton at the Jeans Street ground in Masterton. Charlie Brown returned from injury to score two of the Pioneer tries with others going to the impressive Nathan Rolls, Nikora Ewe, Rima Marurai and Matt Kawana. Joseph Thompson added two conversions and two penalties. Daryl Pickering scored a try for Carterton.
East Coast picked up their first win of the season with a narrow 14-12 success over Gladstone. A dropped goal by Byron Karaitiana was vital to the East Coast cause and he also kicked two penalties. Their only try was scored by Nick Olson. Tim Griffith and Hadley Manley scored the Gladstone tries and Andrew Fell kicked one conversion.
Marist continued their improvement with a 34-31 win over Martinborough in a match in which 10 tries were scored. Malatai Malatai (2), Liam Devine, Kieran O’Brien, Shannon Rimene-Albrett and Laurence Titter were the Marist try scorers and Pua Tafa kicked two conversions. Josh Hawkins, Himona Haira, Nathan Hunt and Ardun Mann scored tries for Martinborough and Cody Whittaker kicked three penalties and one conversion.
Greytown and Pioneer now share the Kapene Cup lead with 24pts, followed by Eketahuna 19, Gladstone and Marist 11, Martinborough 7, East Coast 4 and Carterton 0.
Next week’s draw is: Pioneer4 v Eketahuna, East Coast v Marist, Gladstone v Greytown, Carterton v Martinborough.
Eketahuna colts started their Manawatu competition campaign on a high note when they scored a 20-12 win over Freyberg at Eketahuna on Saturday. Ajay Patangata scored three tries for Eketahuna and John Southee added one conversion and one penalty.
Eketahuna takes on Bush Colts in a local derby at Pahiatua next weekend.
Senior reserve results from Saturday: Pioneer 45, Eketahuna 7; East Coast 34, Carterton 17; Greytown 23, Tuhirangi 19.
By Gary Caffell – WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE