Sat, Apr 13, 2024 6:16 PM

Two wins for Marlborough teams


Peter Jones

It has been some time since both Marlborough teams in the Tasman Trophy competition tasted victory on the same day, but that is exactly what happened today.

Central hosted Marist at Lansdowne Park, in a 2023 grand final replay, and repeated the dose, coming away with a 15-14 victory, while Moutere underlined their potential this season with an equally-tight 8-5 win over Nelson at Awarua Park.

The Magpies have shown their potential in patches this year and, while being far from their best today, illustrated they have the resolve and firepower to get across the finish line.

After a best-forgotten scoreless first half, where both sides spurned a myriad of scoring opportunities through poor option-taking and an inability to handle the slippery ball for long periods, the second 40 minutes was more cohesive.

Moutere scored first, after 55 minutes, hooker Monu Moli at the back of a relentless driving maul which covered 15m to the Nelson tryline. His try was unconverted.

Despite the home side looking more potent in the latter stages Nelson found a way back into the game on the back of a couple of penalties, their reliable centre Nick Foxley crashing over out wide.

The conversion was also missed and, with five minutes to play, the game was well and truly on.

Sekope Lopeti-Moli shows his sidestep.

Fortunately for the home support, it was the visitors who blinked first, their inability to exit their danger zone being punished with a penalty handy to the posts, which Moutere replacement Corey Bovey duly converted.

The home side’s scrum was dominant, with hooker Johnny Vakaloa and prop JP Koen to the fore. Moana Pasifika lock Mike Curry, hard-running loosie Sekope Lopeti-Moli, Jack Burdon and Monu Moli carried hard and did their core jobs efficiently, while the halfback pairing of Bray Taumoefolau and Ben Finau combined well. Out wider Clyde Paewai and Senetenari Ponesi always looked dangerous.

Nelson’s best were hooker Blake Craddock, loosie Kwaid Ah Hoi and first five Matt Soper, plus elusive fullback Fletcher Hewitt-Smart.

Meanwhile, at rugby headquarters, Central relied on a huge first half defensive effort to grind their way to victory over Marist.

The Blues were forced to dig deep for much of the first spell as Marist laid siege to their line, their resilience forcing Marist to settle for two penalty goals which made for a 6-0 halftime scoreline.

A third penalty pushed the visitors ahead 9-0 before Central began their comeback.

Midway through the half, lock Jack Powell found himself on the end of a long pass out wide and carried three defenders across the line to haul the Blues back into the match.

That try was unconverted but the Blues repeated the dose soon after, a Quentin MacDonald try from a rolling lineout drive, and subsequent conversion from fullback Cam Hansford, pushing them into a 12-9 lead.

However, Marist were not done, reclaiming the lead with a try out wide, which went unconverted.

With four minutes to play Central established field position and held possession long enough to earn a penalty 30m out which Hansford converted to eke out the win.

Player/coach MacDonald said the Blues’ first half defence “typified our effort”.

“We were quite happy at halftime having held them out for so long. The guys really stood up on defence.”

He mentioned the efforts of lightweight loosie Jack Kelly, hard-working lock Matt McCormick, halfback Ethan Jones and midfielder Ben Filipo.

This match was the side’s first defence of the coveted John Goodman Challenge Shield, which will go on the line at every home game, a “big motivation” for the team, according to Quentin.

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