Marist surged to the head of the West Coast Rugby Muir Trophy competition ladder with a 41-5 victory over Wests, at Rugby Park, Greymouth, on Saturday.
Going into the game Marist shared the lead with Blaketown, but the seasiders lost 29-31 to Kiwi, a missed conversion late in the match denying them a 31-31 draw.
In the other match, South Westland travelled to Ikamatua to inflict a 38-5 loss on Grey Valley.
Marist was a mixture of very good and ordinary. When the passes stuck, the backs ran with pace and purpose, but all too often loose passes went to ground spoiling many promising moves, particularly in the second spell.
Marist’s scrum won two tightheads and spoiled almost every other Wests put in, denying Wests’ pacy backline of clean ball. Little Wests wing, Elijah Matalomani, was again a bundle of energy, while fullback Logan Ross capped a good all-round game with his side’s only try and went very close to gaining a second. Centre Myson Teta, Wests’ man of the match, would have scored under the posts had the referee given him the benefit of the advantage rule, while the usually accurate kickers Nathan Smith and Logan Ross missed several shots at goal which would have kept Wests in the hunt.
Prop Nathan Cook had a busy game in a beaten scrum, along with hooker Ant Barlow. Giant Marist lock Isei Lewaqai was prominent in the loose creating several opportunities, while Ben Campbell, Sam Tau and Ivan Robin also shone in the green pack.
Fullback Josh Costello ran the ball back hard at the opposition and wing Haami Tangiora was ever-dangerous in a green backline hamstrung by first-five Melali Mudu’s penchant to always explore his own options first.
Torres missed his first penalty kick at goal but guided the ball through the uprights for a 3-0 lead when given a second opportunity. Smith, presented with a chance to level the scores, also missed his first penalty kick before a strong kick return from Costello gave Haami Tangiora a chance to cross in the corner, but the wing was bundled into touch.
Marist made up for the lost opportunity when Mudu scythed through some weak defence to score, Torres converting, but a 10-0 lead was cut in half when a Mudu clearing kick was charged down and Logan Ross scored in the corner. Torres then crossed in the corner after a long rolling maul, and then Costello’s strong running was rewarded with a try in the opposite corner, which Torres converted 22-5 right on half-time.
The second half produced another 19 points and a plethora of handling and passing errors as the game degenerated to a stop-start affair punctuated by messy scrums dominated by the green pack until the ref reverted to golden oldies rules.
Wests upped the ante in the second spell with two Logan Ross penalties missing and Matalomani being bundled out in the corner before Lewaqai created a long range try for Tau. No 8 Robin capped a strong game with his solo try, and Lewaqai dotted down, Torres converting two of them.
South Westland, aware that they are going to be under the pump next week when about 10 of their key players cross the Tasman for a birthday party, were determined to take five competition points from Grey Valley, and they achieved it.
“We are back in the hunt now,” coach Grant Mathieson said. “It was hard graft but a good win.”
Lock Blair Jenkins was man of the match, second-five Damian Blackburn contained the powerful Kevin Moore well, and fullback Corey Deans was outstanding.
“He set us alight from the back and his all-round kicking game was spot on,” Mathieson said.
Grey Valley’s Ben Ferguson said South Westland were too strong on the day.
“Blindside flanker Andrew Verway had a cracker. He was our man of the match, while Kevin Moore (who travels from Geraldine each weekend) was our rock in midfield.”
South Westland 38 (E Jenkins, L Syminton, J Wright 2, M Riley 2 tries; C Deans 4 cons)
Grey Valley 5 (J Mueller try).
A 20-minute purple patch in the second half carried Kiwi to a 31-29 victory over Blaketown in Hokitika after the visitors had controlled play for much of the match and led 17-5 at one stage.
Kiwi’s resurgence gave them a 31-17 lead but Blaketown, with late tries to Regan Stanton (his second) and Dan Keno, had a chance to tie things up with a conversion from the sideline but just missed.
Blaketown manager Peter Millar said the reappearance of props Gordon Iafeta and Christian Tuapola added some starch to the pack, and having Stanton and Nick Davy back from injury improved the backline.
Fullback Robert Thompson was player of the day, Miller saying that he “played a blinder”.
Kiwi player-coach Troy Tauwhare said it was a tough, physical encounter which player of the day, prop Dillon Thompson, relished. Peter Te Rakau shone in the backs, along with wing Caleb Singer.
Sean McClure supplied 16 points with two tries and three conversions, one conversion being the deciding factor as both sides had scored five tries.
Kiwi 31 (L Winter, D Thompson, M Olson, S McClure 2, tries; McClure 3 cons)
Blaketown 29 (B Watt, K Curtis, R Stanton 2, D Keno tries; B Cain 2 cons).
– Tui Bromley , GreyStar