Awatere booked a place in the division one rugby semifinals, while the MBC First XV rebounded emphatically from a heavy defeat last week during a truncated Saturday of club rugby.
On a day where spectators were told to stay home, a scattering of officials and bench players were on hand to see Awatere overcome Moutere 33-19 on Lansdowne Park four.
Their bonus point win puts them into a play-off showdown next week against top qualifier Central, who beat Renwick 21-17 in the game on Lansdowne one. The green Machine will play Waitohi, who had the bye today in the other semi.
Due to the alert level two situation, only division one and two, plus the University of Canterbury championship game, were played in Marlborough on Saturday, with grades from under-6 to under-18 being cancelled.
Both division one games were shifted to Lansdowne Park, the venue offering better tracing and crowd control.
Going into Saturday’s match Moutere led Awatere by two points, leaving the Tussocks a simple equation, win or wind up your season.
From the outset they played with a determination, both on attack and defence, which was absent last week when they lost to Central.
They led by 17-0 halfway through the first spell, prop JP Koen and midfielder Sione Vea dotting down, before a try to Moutere skipper Luke Scott narrowed the gap to 17-7 at the break.
Midway through the second spell Moutere scored their third try, reducing the deficit to 23-19, before the Tussocks finished in style. Tries to outside backs Sam Westenra and Franco Quinones sealed the deal, wrapping up a deserved win, especially notable for some tough defensive work on their own line.
At the heart of the Awatere effort was their scrum, anchored by experienced props Seymour Lambert and JP Koen, with locks Su Campbell and Tiko Ono Levu in the engine room. They constantly had Moutere under pressure at set piece and on occasion pushed them off the ball.
No 8 Jack Roberton also impressed, along with midfielders Vea and Westenra, while Quinones, with 20 points, was a huge contributor.
Scott, player/coach Laurie McGlone and flanker Peceli Katonawale turned in big shifts for the Magpies, with halfback Ben Finau digging deep into his bag of tricks to help get his side home.
The other match was also tight, the scores locked 12-12 at the break. The Green Machine scored three tries to Central’s two, but trailed on the scoreboard, 11 points from the boot of Mitch Smith making the difference. Many people viewed this match as a grand final preview and, if that proves to be the case, it will be a match-up worth waiting for.
Jesse Eising, Dusty Foley, Jesse MacDonald and Smith were top performers for the Blues, while Kyle Marfell, Cody Weir, Jaydn Holdaway and Ruairidh Swan were the Green Machine’s best.
Awatere 35 (JP Koen, Sione Vea, Sam Westenra, Franco Quinones tries, Quinones 3 pen, 3 con) Moutere 19 (Luke Scott, Asesela Derenelagi, Koli Tau’alupe tries, Ben Finau con, Amco Cassidy con). HT: 17-7
Central 21 (Peter Vakaloa, Ethan Jones tries, Mitch Smith con, 2 pen, dropped goal) Renwick 17 (Josh Holdaway, Sione Lonitenisi, Sky Boskett-Barnes tries, Michael Dillon con). HT: 12-12.
Standings after round robin play: Central 36, Renwick 26, Waitohi 23, Awatere 11, Moutere 8.
In division two, MBC Old Boys beat Pelorus 38-5 at the College and Central beat Renwick 60-5.
Meanwhile, the Marlborough Boys’ College First XV took out their frustrations at being hammered by Christchurch BHS last weekend on Lincoln High School, downing the combined side 69-12 on the college front field. Again, no spectators are permitted.
MBC began well and, apart for conceding a couple of tries to a gutsy Lincoln outfit, dominated almost throughout.
First five Kyren Taemoefolau was instrumental in pulling the right strings, bringing powerful ball-carriers such as midfielder Jake Pacey, No 8 Monu Moli and prop Te Ariki Peipi into play whenever possible.
With several of the side’s regular starters coming off the bench, MBC were able to maintain the momentum and scored 10 tries, attacking effectively both in close and out wide.
MBC remain in 11th position on the points table, but are closing on the middle rankers. They play Waimea in Nelson next weekend.
Other results: St Andrew’s 35 Mid Canterbury 30; Shirley 55 Roncalli 3; Christchurch BHS 69 Waimea 12; St Bede’s 19 St Thomas 18; Rangiora 19 Christ’s College 16; Nelson 24 Shirley 24.
MBC 69 (Dom Freeth, Cooper Roberts 2, Kyren Taumoefolau 2, Viliami Na’apa, Cameron Collins 2, Nikau Peipi, Ben Dalton tries, Taumoefolau pen, 8 con) Lincoln Combined 12 (Tyler Illes, Cam O’Donnell tries, Andre Des Forges con). HT: 31-5.