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By Jonty Dine [Nelson App]

Marist and Waimea remain the early frontrunners in the E’stel Tasman Trophy while the defending champions continue its resurgence after a stuttering start to the season, with a 53-28 win over Central.

A breath-taking hat-trick to lock Conor Rhind ensures Nelson keep themselves in touch the unbeaten Waimea Old Boys and Marist at the top of the table. 

Nelson chanced its arm from the kick-off reception, trying to run the ball out from its own 22 only to concede possession to the dangerous Timoci Tavatavanawai who scored with less than a minute gone.

The hosts struck back after a succession of penalties against Renwick, skipper Chris Kerslake crashing over the chalk from close range.

Conor then made a scintillating break from the base before stepping fullback Mitchell Smith and showing enough speed to get to the line for the first of his trio. 

Central continued to concede penalties and Nelson continued to punish, Asher Wells charging an attempted clearance to score a third for the defending champions.

Nelson were dominant at set piece, Ethan Blackadder its primary lineout target and the Crusader was rewarded for his work with a bonus point try after a rampaging run off the back of a scrum.

Barry slotted his fourth conversion before adding three more before halftime for a comfortable 31-7 advantage.

The carnage continued after oranges as Saul Lewis managed muscle his way to the line after looking sure to be bundled into touch.

Soper then darted down the blindside to extend the lead as Renwick started to visibly fatigue. 

Rhind’s second was the nail in Central’s coffin as Nelson looked to put an exclamation mark on its dominant performance.

The young lock was over again moments later, the beneficiary of a superb run and offload from Blackadder.

A brace of late consolation tries from Central made the scoreboard look less one-sided.

The hat-trick hero says he is loving his first year out of college with the Nelson side.

Conor says they have written off the early season losses.

"We are back on the rise and are starting to click.”

He says he was ecstatic to dot down three times at 'T-Park,’ showing a blend of strength and speed in a stunning display.

“That first one I thought I’d just try it on the outside and managed to get away, the second I got hit pretty hard initially then just pinned my ears back and that last one, all credit to Blackadder I just strolled over in the corner.”


Nelson 53 (Rhind 3, Kerslake, Wells, Blackadder, Lewis, Soper, tries, Barry 5 cons 1 pen)

Central 28 (Tavatavanawai, MacDonald, Smith, Chapman tries, Trance Poa 2 Smith 2 cons)

Earlier in the day, Waimea kept its unbeaten run alive with another big win.

Marist are also yet to taste defeat in 2019, downing a spirited Moutere side while Kahurangi also registered a win over East Coast and Stoke went down to Waitohi.


Nelson 53 def Central 28

Waimea 46 def Renwick 16

Kahurangi 33 def East Coast 22

Marist 51 def Moutere 31

Waitohi 31 def Stoke 25

By Peter Jones [Marlborough App]

Waitohi player/coach Jimmy Giles admitted he was “pretty rapt” with his charges after they spared Marlborough’s blushes on Saturday. 

During the fifth round of the E’stel Tasman Trophy rugby competition the Picton-based side tipped over Stoke 31-25, providing the only victory for teams based this side of the Whangamoas. 

Giles was quick to admit his side were far from perfect, the game often getting a bit niggly and disjointed as both sides struggled with cohesion and adapting to some of the referee’s decisions. 

“It didn’t feel like either team was well on top at any stage … and it was touch and go at the end,” he suggested. 

Two of the local players, Giles included, were sent to the sin bin and they made do with a three-man bench, but there was enough resolve and grit shown by the local lads to get the job done.  

“We did reasonably well with a lightweight pack and a short lineout,” said Giles, “I’m pretty rapt with the effort given [the line-up] we had.”  

The game, at Endeavour Park, was close at halftime, Waitohi ahead 15-10. The home side surged out to 31-13 then repelled a late surge by the visitors who closed to within six points with 10 minutes to go, then laid siege to the Waitohi line. However, staunch defence created turnovers and the Tohis survived to pick up their second win of the season. 

Giles said his side had plenty of heroes on the day but singled out a few for special mention. 

“Tuli [Paea] at fullback had one of his better games for us, young Taine [Cragg-Love] at flanker was outstanding again, into everything, Corey [Bovey] with his goalkicking was very sound, plus the frontrowers Taimi [Fangatua] and Manu [Mataele] put in a lot of work. 

“The heart all the boys showed was awesome … we are going out there with no massive expectations except to play a decent 80 minutes and see what happens. They are playing hard for each other, the club and the supporters.” 

Less happy with his side’s efforts on Saturday was East Coast skipper Seymour Lambert, whose side went down 33-24 in Seddon to a resolute and dangerous Kahurangi outfit.  

The visitors led 21-12 at the break, taking advantage of a stiff wind at their backs and some defensive lapses, then frustrated East Coast, who made too many errors, both on attack and defence. 

“They got a head start and we were not good enough, not clinical enough, that’s all it comes down to really,” said the uncompromising tighthead prop. 

The Coasters were chasing their third home win in a row but were always behind in the game, being locked in their half for most of the first quarter, then conceding two quick converted tries to trail 14-0. Kahurangi’s play-making quartet of No8 Hana Corbett-Burrows, flanker Tim Sail, halfback Aaron Coe and first five Ben Corston were highly influential, Corston kicking astutely to pressure East Coast’s defenders into errors. 

When the home side finally got some field position they scored from a trademark rolling maul, but the visitors came back immediately to bag their third. 

A touchdown by the hard-working Steve Crudis just prior to halftime saw the home side close to 21-12 and they came out firing immediately after halftime. However a straightforward penalty attempt was missed and Kahurangi regrouped, adding two more tries to stretch the lead to 33-12 and, although the Coasters picked up late tries to Jordan Judge and Michael Ryan to bag a bonus point, the home side were always playing catch-up.       

Lambert said his side were focused on playing finals football this season but added, “with a performance like that we can’t do it. It’s back to the drawing board this week.”     

The third game in Marlborough saw Moutere take on the unbeaten Marist side at Awarau Park. At halftime the visitors led 22-5 and doubled their advantage in the second spell, their attacking prowess too hot for the Magpies to handle.    

In Nelson, Central and Renwick featured in a Trafalgar Park double-header and met the same fate.  

In the highest-scoring encounter of the weekend, the Blues were swamped 53-28 by Nelson, who led 31-7 at the break, while the Green Machine went down 49-19 to Waimea Old Boys in the curtainraiser.