by Tui Bromley – greystar.co.nz
Grey Valley’s march towards an historic West Coast rugby grand final victory continued on Saturday with an emphatic 38-5 win over Marist on a firm field at Arthur Fong Park.
In other games, South Westland took a big step towards snaring the fourth semi-final berth with a 46-5 victory over an under-strength Blaketown side at Whataroa, while Kiwi hammered Wests 62-0 in a 10-try romp in a Hokitika derby.
Kiwi heads the overall points ladder on 37 points from Grey Valley 33, Blaketown 26, South Westland 21 and Marist 19, so fourth position hinges on the results of the final round of the Muir Trophy this Saturday, when Marist play Blaketown and South Westland host Grey Valley.
Grey Valley, unbeaten in the Muir Trophy competition, have the trophy in safe keeping with one round to play. They were beaten 23-20 by Marist when they last met, but were never in danger of defeat on Saturday in yet another error-strewn encounter, dominated by the accurate boot of first-five Tim Priest and the powerful centre combination of Kevin Moore and Sammy Junior.
Wing Mike Bruhn also had a strong game. Dave Crouchley and Matt Sweeney produced committed performances in the pack.
Marist was missing a couple of key players and showed glimpses of enterprise, but they were too fleeting to have any effect on the outcome.
Josh Costello made a good fist of filling the halfback’s jersey, while flanker Sean Loveday’s staunch defence was rewarded with his side’s man of the match award. First-five, Nathan Smith again showed his class, and fullback Andrew Miller was lauded by coach Luke McNeish for a polished performance.
Sam King was first to score, crossing on the back of a scything run from Bruhn. Priest added the conversion, but his opposite, Nathan Smith, was unable to do the same after Josh Komen dotted down amid a maul from a lineout.
A try to Dave Crouchley and another conversion and a penalty from Priest gave valley a 17-5 lead at the break, and further tries to S Dredge, N Makea and M Sweeney, all converted by Priest, more that doubled the half-time score.
South Westland coach Grant Mathieson said his team was finally reaping the rewards of sticking to the game plan.
“The whole team went well, we really clicked,” Mathieson said.
First-five Mark Le Lieve was the main player of the day and others to impress were hooker Mike Riley and tearaway flanker Ben Monk, both playing the full 80 minutes.
Mathieson was rueing injuries to key players Lloyd Bowater, Rob Wilson and Kip Nolan, and hoping that they will recover in time for the semi-finals.
Blaketown player-coach Nik Davy was not using it as an excuse but conceded that a number of key players, some saving themselves for the rugby league final yesterday, did not travel south.
“As a team we just did not really turn up to play on the day,” Davy said.
He singled out centre Rob Thomson as one player to stand out. Angus Gibb scored the team’s sole try.
Grey Valley 38 (D Crouchley, S Dredge, S King, N Makea, M Sweeney tries; T Priest 5 cons, pen)
Marist 5 (J Komen try)
South Westland 46 (G Price 2, M Le Lieve, R Wilson, B Jenkins, T Decker, L Syminton tries; C Dean 4 cons, pen)
Blaketown 5 (A Gibb)
Kiwi 62 (T Struthers 2, P Te Rakau 2, M Olsen, N Muir, D Oates, T Scadden, J Van Vliet 1, J Stevens tries, S McClure 5, D Tauwhare cons)