Marist lock Hopo Taufa attempts to bump off Waimea winger Connor McBrydie during their clash at Trafalgar Park.
Kahurangi and Marist will line up in Saturday’s Stuff Tasman Trophy Division One Final at Trafalgar Park after the two banked comfortable semifinal victories over Central and Waimea Old Boys respectively on Saturday.
Kahurangi proved too strong across the park dispatching Central 36-8 at Motueka, while Marist and Waimea Old Boys were involved in a back-and-forth encounter at Trafalgar Park for the first 60 minutes before Marist took control of the contest to run out 38-17 winners and set up a mouth-watering final this weekend.
Central made an early statement to open the scoring and put Kahurangi under significant pressure in the opening exchanges, before Kahurangi’s Vito Lammers made a clean break to score under the posts after 15 minutes.
A Central penalty gave it back the lead for what would be the final time before Willy Havili attacked from long range and sent prolific winger Stein Schreiber away to put Kahurangi in front, from which there was no looking back from there.
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BRADEN FASTIER / STUFF/NELSON MAIL
Kahurangi number 12 Vito Lammers had another strong game, scoring under the posts after just 15 minutes.
Jan Lammers crossed after a well-worked move down the blindside and when Qori Gucake scored from a lineout drive to give Kahurangi a 24-8 halftime lead, the game was all but over.
When Number Eight Willis Scott barged over just after halftime a rout was on but to Central’s credit they stuck to the task but were unable to turn pressure into points with a late Kenny Eggers try sealing an impressive win for Kahurangi.
Coach Brendon Smith was delighted with the effort in difficult conditions.
“It was a mud bath and given that I was really happy with the skills we showed. They’ve got big ball runners and our defence was outstanding. You need composure in big games and we showed that and really held our nerve which was pleasing,” Smith said.
Whilst not the result he was looking for, Central coach Dave McCormick was glowing in his praise for his side’s effort.
“Our guys played their guts out. We never gave up and put them under pressure but Kahurangi was very well connected on defence and they took their chances and we didn’t convert. That was the story right there,” McCormick said.
Another cracking contest between Marist and Waimea Old Boys loomed on Saturday, however in something of a break in tradition from the recent encounters between the two arch-rivals, Marist was able to ease away in the second half to win with a degree of comfort.
The teams traded tries and then penalty goals to be locked up at 10-all after the first quarter with Waimea Old Boys then failing to convert a number of try-scoring opportunities after sustained periods on attack midway through the half.
Then, a lack of concentration on their own feed to a scrum in the shadow of their posts saw Marist’s Te Puoho Stephens crash over to give Marist a 17-10 half-time lead.
After the break it took 20 minutes for the scoreboard attendant to again be called into action, when Sam Briggs extended the lead to 10 with a penalty after 66 minutes, before the crucial moment of the game came just two minutes later.
Kasi Sami came off the bench to impress in Marist’s 38-17 victory over Waimea Old Boys.
A loose pass in midfield by Waimea Old Boys saw the ball go to ground and from the kick ahead, Marist’s Nik Vikena regathered and scored to give his side some breathing space.
Waimea Old Boys hit back with a Mitchell Barry try before Marist’s Manase Taufa regathered a Cleveland Barrell box-kick to score and effectively end the contest.
Marist coach Gavin Briggs was happy to earn a trip to the “big dance.”
“They were testing conditions and we always knew it would take a team effort from 1 to 22 and that’s what we got. We’ll always back our bench to provide impact and that ability and our fitness meant we were able to finish with our sails up,” Briggs said.
Waimea Old Boys’ coach Scott McKenzie was left reflecting on what might have been.
“We are gutted. Those missed opportunities in the first half cost us big time but I’m extremely proud of the guys and what we’ve achieved. If we can keep the nucleus together and add some raw talent we’ll be in good shape for next season,” McKenzie said.
Saturday’s final between Marist and Kahurangi will be played at Trafalgar Park, kicking off at 2:30pm.
Waimea centre Mo Tau was a threat to the Marist defenders whenever he got his hands on the ball.
MOUTERE DIG DEEP TO CLAIM 2021 WOMEN’S RUGBY TITLE
Moutere is the 2021 Golden Bay Fruit Women’s champion after they defeated Waimea Old Boys 10-6 in a tense final on Saturday afternoon.
Built on a strong team defensive effort, two sparkling plays by impressive young winger Eleri James-Sitters set up the Moutere victory.
Two Eve Findlay penalty goals gave Waimea Old Boys the early lead before James-Sitters sparked Moutere into life. From a tap penalty, Moutere moved the ball downfield before James-Sitters made a clean break in midfield and ran around the last defender to score under the posts and close the game up to a one-point contest at halftime.
Then, just six minutes after the resumption, she fielded the ball on her own goal line and proceeded to run 70 metres, evading tacklers, drawing the fullback and putting Fiaalii Solomona over in the left hand corner to give Moutere the lead for the first time in the game.
It was a lead they grimly held onto all the way to the final whistle, holding Waimea Old Boys up in-goal and making tackle after tackle, playing the vast majority of the final 34 minutes on defence, deep in their own half.
Moutere coach Paul Kahui was glowing in his praise for his team’s composure under pressure.
“It was gutsy. That’s what finals are about. Nothing is going to be perfect when you have two teams that are evenly matched like that but the girls really wanted it and it showed,” Kahui said.
Patelesio Latu gets smashed and loses the ball in the tackle by Marist winger Richard Tau'alupe.
“When we started the season the team made their own values that we worked to all season. It was all about family, including our supporters and our children and that’s what pulled us through. It was our motivation on Saturday and that’s what got us up,” he said.
Waimea Old Boys’ coach Tom Williams was left ruing missed opportunities, the best of which came just five minutes from full time when an errant pass with a three-player overlap stopped its final chance to snatch a late victory.
“We just didn’t take our opportunities. When you have a score line like that it’s going to be a defensive game and in the end they defended better than we did,” Williams said.
Meanwhile, in Division Two action on Saturday, Marist followed the lead of its Division One counterparts handing Collingwood its first loss of the season with a 32-15 victory in the battle of the top two sides.
Wanderers also claimed a crucial 36-24 win over Waimea Old Boys to leap-frog them into fourth spot on the table while Stoke did the same in defeating the Valley Stags to jump to third overall with a week to play before semifinalists are confirmed in the Nelson competition.
Nelson outlasted Takaka 32-30 in the other game to move off the bottom of the ladder.
Marist and Waimea locks get some altitude as they contest the linout on a wet Nelson Saturday.
Meanwhile, upsets were the order of the day in Marlborough with the top three sides all tasting defeat against lower-placed opponents.
Awatere knocked over the previously undefeated Central side 22-17 at Seddon Domain while Waitohi defeated Moutere 18-15 and Renwick banked its second win of the season in beating MBC Old Boys 24-17.
DIVISION 2 STANDINGS
THE CAR COMPANY - NELSON BAYS (After 10 weeks): Collingwood 44, Marist 36, Stoke 31, Wanderers 30, Waimea Old Boys Colts 28, Valley Stags 27, Waimea Old Boys 21, Huia 20, Takaka 12, Nelson 11, Riwaka 7.
MOTORWORLD – MARLBOROUGH (After 10 weeks): Central 38, Moutere 27, MBC Old Boys 25, Awatere 20, Waitohi 18, Renwick 17, Pelorus 5.