Green Machine rolls to top of rugby table

Renwick winger Josh Thomas dives in at the corner for the second of his three tries against Moutere on Saturday. Photo: Peter Jones.

Renwick and Waitohi showed they had suffered no ill effects from a three-month rugby hiatus when Marlborough sub-union division one competition resumed on Saturday.

The Green Machine consolidated their lead at the top of the standings by downing Moutere 43-12 at Spring Creek, while dedfending sub-union champs Waitohi accounted for Awatere 22-7 in Seddon.

At Awarua Park, Renwick quickly took up where they had left off before lockdown. In the first round, played on March 14, their backs and forwards combined superbly to fashion a first round, bonus point win over Waitohi.

On Saturday they also produced a 15-man performance, regularly creating space on the fringes for their pacy outside backs.

A first half hat-trick of tries to right winger Josh Thomas saw the Green Machine move into a commanding 29-7 lead at the break, then two further touchdowns to his brother Kaylin Thomas, on the other wing, ensured there would be no comeback from the home side.

Their opening try was scored by George Tuinea after just five minutes, the big loosehead prop powering over from close range.

Their second try had a touch of luck about it, Josh Thomas charging down an attempted clearing kick. The rebound rolled gently over the Moutere goaline as Thomas followed up.

Moutere first five Dan Monaghan brought the home side back into the match with a solo effort on the 20 minute mark, his conversion closing the gap to 12-7.

However three more well-constructed touchdowns, including two more to Josh Thomas, enabled the visitors to turn around with a handy advantage.

Within 15 minutes of the second spell the Green Machine had two more tries, both to Kalin Thomas, and the game was out of reach for the Magpies, who battled gamely but had only a late try to Koli Tau’alupe to show for their endeavour.

Flanker Cody Weir was a ball of energy for Renwick, along with Tuineau and skipper Josh Holdaway. Halfback Ruairdih Swan kicked cleverly when required while fullback, Michael Dillon threatened every time he had his hands on the ball.

Particularly pleasing for the Renwick management would have been the side’s defensive fortitude, especially when the game was already won.

The home side, who appeared disjointed and short of a gallop, were ruthlessly punished for their errors. They will only get better with game time together. The Magpies started the match with regular halfback Ben Finau in midfield and youngster Tristian Taylor in the nine jersey, both at the heart of the side’s better moments, along with former Waimea Old Boys utility Monaghan. Up front prop Jack Best, skipper Luke Scott, lock Josh Sutherland and No 8 Amco Cassidy were prominent.

Meanwhile, scoring two tries in each half was enough to give Waitohi a relatively-comfortable win over Awatere.

However, Tohis player/coach Jimmy Giles said his side failed to take full advantage of the wealth of possession and position that came their way, especially in the first spell when they had a slight wind advantage. He conceded that Awatere had defended stoutly in a “pretty physical, typical country brothers” encounter.

Waitohi were expertly guided around the park by Mako utility back Tim O’Malley and halfback Karlos Tautari, the latter scoring one of their first half tries. Fullback Gannon Karena, who scored a brace, also dotted down in the opening 40 as the Tohis took a 12-0 lead to the shed.

A second to Karena and a bonus point try to hooker Taimi Fangitua completed the scoring, with Sam Lunn getting a last-minute consolation for Awatere.

Best on show for Waitohi were locks Dylan Burns and Andre Hebberd, prop Manu Mataele, Karena and Tautari.

Awatere coach Kaleni Taetuli lamented his side’s inability to claim quality possession, suggesting, “you can’t win if you can’t win your own set pieces”.

Scores: Renwick 43 (Josh Thomas 3, Kaylin Thomas 2, George Tuineau, Falaula Fotu Moala tries, Michael Dillon 4 con) Moutere 12 (Dan Monaghan, Koli Tau’alupe tries, Monaghan con). HT 29-7.

Waitohi 22 (Gannon Karena 2, Karlos Tatauri, Taimi Fangatua tries, Tim O’Malley con) Awatere 7 (Sam Lunn try, Franco Quinones con). HT: 12-0.

MSU standings after two rounds: Renwick 10, Waitohi 6, Central 5, Moutere 1, Awatere 0.

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