Central midfielder Timoci Tavatavanawai slides in under the Moutere posts for his second try at Awarau Park on Saturday. Photo: Peter Jones.

Central, Waitohi claim wins

Central underlined their division one rugby pedigree at Awarua Park on Saturday afternoon, romping past home side Moutere 54-0.

In gloomy conditions, with constant light rain throughout and the floodlights on, the Blues achieved a commendable level of co-ordination, enabling them to run in eight tries, seven of which were expertly converted by fullback Mitch Smith.

Moutere’s cause was not helped by the fact they were reduced to 14 men midway through the first half when No 8 Peceli Katonawale was sent off for a breakdown infringement.

The Blues, who were without Braden Stewart and Nigel Satherley this week, were on the board early through inspirational hooker Jesse MacDonald. Soon after, Moutere lost hooker Pene Toa to the sin bin for a high tackle and Central scored again, through a clever bit of work from first five Liam Duncan.

That pretty much summed up the afternoon for the Magpies, who battled away but too often turned over possession cheaply and were unable to string lengthy phases together.

By halftime Central had three more tries, the score was 33-0 and the match was effectively over.

However, they kept their foot on the throat during the second spell, a double to centre Timoci Tavatavanawai and a final touchdown by No 8 Matt McCormick against his former club rubbing salt into the wound.

Young loosie Edan Fitzpatrick was outstanding for the Blues, along with halfback Ethan Jones, Duncan, Smith and midfielder Jake Cresswell.

Tristian Taylor, who played in a variety of positions, was Moutere’s best, along with hard-working skipper Luke Scott.

Victory ensured the Blues remain unbeaten for the season, and retain the Weekly Challenge Cup which they claimed from Renwick last week.

Meanwhile, in Picton, the home side rebounded from their loss to Moutere a fortnight ago to tip over Renwick 32-20 at Endeavour Park.

The match was a see-sawing affair, the return of experienced Mako utility back Tim O’Malley and player/coach Jimmy Giles at No 8 making a difference in the latter stages when Waitohi assumed control.

The home side held a narrow 10-8 advantage at the break and picked up a further three second half tries to claim a bonus point, while Renwick relied on the trusty boot of fullback Michael Dillon, who landed five penalties to keep them in touch as the match see-sawed throughout.

Giles said the difference was that his side won a few of the key moments in the latter stages.

“It was tit-for-tat, in the end a few turnovers made the difference,” he suggested.

“The last couple of weeks have been below our best work … this time we played for each other, became brothers again.”

Waitohi’s player of the day was lock Dylan Burns, who bagged two of their tries.

Giles had praise for their young front rowers Saka Kavila and Luke Bergman who anchored a capable scrum in the absence of the experienced Manu Mataele and Losi Malimali.

Taine Cragg-Love, Mote Malimali, Karlos Tautari, fullback Gannon Karena and first five Dylan McManaway also made big impacts.

For Renwick No 8 Kurt Schollum had a strong game on both attack and defence, halfback Ruairidh Swan cleared the ball well and kicked intelligently while Dillon had another top outing at the back.

Division one scores:

Central 54 (Jesse MacDonald 3, Timoci Tavatavanawai 2, Matt McCormick, Jake Cresswell, Liam Duncan tries, Mitch Smith 7 con) Moutere 0. HT: 33-0.

Waitohi 32 (Dylan Burns 2, Gannon Karena, Taimi Fangatua tries,Tim O’Malley 3 con, 2 pen) Renwick 20 (Alex Barnsley try, Michael Dillon 5 pen). HT: 10-8 Waitohi

Meanwhile, the Marlborough division two competition began on Saturday. MBC Old Boys opened the competition with a 12-0 win over Moutere at Awarua Park, Awatere prevailed 32-5 over Renwick at the Renwick Domain and Central beat Pelorus 57-7 in Havelock.

In the Tasman women’s division one competition Moutere went down 77-20 to Riwaka, while Central were beaten 87-10 by reigning champions Waimea Old Boys.

MBC flanker Manase Taufa bursts down the sideline during Monday’s First XV clash on the MBC front field. In support is winger Charles Tupoutoa. Photo: Peter Jones.

Nelson College overcome Marlborough rivals

Nelson College came away with the spoils when they met traditional rivals Marlborough Boys’ College in a University of Canterbury championship clash in Blenheim on Monday.

In a match that was closer than the final score suggests, Nelson prevailed 43-17, a couple of late tries inflating the final margin.

Nelson led 17-7 at halftime but MBC replied straight after oranges with a slick solo try to Kyren Taumoefolau which narrowed the gap to five points.

However, a lack of regular field position and quality set piece ball meant the home side were unable to take control of the match. They also suffered from a spate of handling errors, especially in the first half, which slowed their momentum.

In contrast, the visitors, expertly guided around the park by the talented inside back combination of halfback Justin Yokoyama and first five Cooper Grant ensured Nelson made the most of the chances that came their way and kept the home crowd out of the game.

They came up against some dogged MBC defence, led by loose forwards Manase Taufa and Toby McLeod, but were ultimately too good for the home side, who battled gamely until the final whistle.

Scores: Nelson College 43 (Dylan Irvine, Nic Sauira 2, Jacob Neha-Manihera, Netani Baleisomosomo, Daniel Dixon tries, Cooper Grant pen, 4 con, Ethan Burt con) Marlborough Boys’ College 17 (Viliami Napa’a, Ryan McLeod, Kyren Taumoefolau tries, Taumoefolau con). HT: 17-7 Nelson College

Central first five Liam Duncan breaks clear of the Renwick defence on Saturday. Photo: Peter Jones.

Blues brothers on song

Central came out on top in a division one rugby arm wrestle with Renwick at Lansdowne Park on Saturday.

Although the Blues prevailed 14-8, there was little to separate the table-topping teams, both unbeaten heading into the final weekend of the first round.

Both sides were well organised, defensively and on attack, making for a low-scoring match, just two tries being scored.

Both came in the first spell and were unconverted, leaving the scores locked 5-5 at the break. A penalty apiece to rival fullbacks, Renwick’s Michael Dillon and Central’s Mitch Smith, saw the scores tied 8-8 halfway through the final stanza, before two late penalties to Smith sealed the deal.

In perfect, windless rugby conditions both sides endeavoured to move the ball quickly to the fringes but battled to do so accurately.

Renwick’s try, to centre Falaula Fotu Moala, was a notable exception, the Green Machine using the full width of the park to find space. Central’s try, to hooker Jesse MacDonald, one of the best players on the park, was scored in close quarters, but the Blues did their best to mix up their attacking options whenever possible.

On balance, the Central probably deserved to claim the first round trophy, retain the John Goodman Challenge Trophy and relieve Renwick of the weekly Challenge Cup. They defended superbly in the first 15 minutes when Renwick camped on their line, then handled the big moments better in the latter stages.

Having said that, there is little to separate these sides, who would be early favourites to contest the premier final on August 29.

The other match saw Awatere finally register their first win of what has been a frustrating season so far, beating Moutere 36-7 at Seddon.

Awatere coach Kaleni Taetuli said, “It was really really good for the boys to see what they are capable of.

“Our set pieces were stable and that meant our backs got quality ball, then they took advantage of the space they created. It had a flow-on effect and our skill levels were much better.”

The home side led 29-0 at halftime, with Moutere able to hold Awatere to one more converted try in the second 40, while scoring one themselves.

Prop Seymour Lambert led by example for Awatere, alongside skilful hooker Jake Collins and Argentinian fullback Franco Quinones, who scored 21 points.

Scores: Central 14 (Jesse MacDonald try, Mitch Smith 3 pen) Renwick 8 (Falaula Fotu Moala try, Michael Dillon pen) HT: 5-5

Awatere 36 (Franco Quinones 2, Sione Vea, Ben Filipo, Brogan Matthew tries, Quinones 4 con, pen) Moutere 7 (Jack Best try, Amco Cassidy con). HT: 29-0.

Standings after the first round: Central 18, Renwick 15, Waitohi 8, Moutere 6, Awatere 6.

Both of the Marlborough-based teams involved in the Tasman division one women’s competition were well beaten on Saturday.

Central lost 81-5 to Wanderers at Lansdowne Park, while Moutere went down 70-0 to Waimea Old Boys at Awarua Park.

Meanwhile, the Marlborough Boys’ College First XV are finally on the board.

They made sure their lengthy trek to Timaru to play Timaru Boys’ High School in the University of Canterbury championship was not a wasted effort, picking up a vital 30-24 win.

MBC scored three tries in each half, not managing any conversions, and led 15-0 at the break. With 10 minutes to go they led 30-13, before a late Timaru revival closed the gap and made for a few nervous final moments.

Matt MacDougall, MBC head coach, said his side’s efforts were like “chalk and cheese” compared with last week’s performance.

“We spent the week encouraging our guys to shift the ball around … to express themselves and that’s exactly what they did.

“We scored some really nice tries, getting width on our attack, while the forward pack did some great work up the middle. This was certainly a timely win.”

Big No 8 Viliami Napa’a was hugely impressive, along with hooker Ben Dalton in his first start for the team. Openside flanker Toby McLeod slotted in superbly to a new position while Kyren Taumoefolau ran the cutter well at first five, his game management improving each week. Young winger Charles Tupoutoa was also outstanding along with midfielder Dom Freeth who made his debut off the bench.

It was MBC’s first victory of the season, having previously lost to St Thomas of Canterbury, Shirley and St Andrews and lifts them to ninth on the table. Their next game is against old rivals Nelson College, in Blenheim on Monday, July 20.

MBC 30 (Cooper Roberts 2, Nase Taufa, Ben Dalton, Ryan McLeod tries) Timaru BHS 24. HT: 15-0 MBC

This week’s other scores: Christ’s College 73 Roncalli 0; Nelson College 41 St Thomas 0; Waimea 42 Lincoln 10; Rangiora 70 Mid Canterbury 0; St Bede’s 28 Shirley 24; St Andrew’s 24 Christchurch BHS 19.

Moutere halfback Tristian Taylor, pictured kicking against Renwick earlier this year, had a strong game against Waitohi on Saturday. Photo: Peter Jones.

Magpies find their wings

Moutere claimed a notable scalp on Saturday, downing reigning Marlborough premier rugby champions Waitohi 36-31 in Picton.

The upset victory by the Magpies, who scored their last premier win 337 days ago, underlined their ability to foot it with any team in the competition and keeps them in the race for semi-final positions.

Moutere led early and scored regularly but were unable to create a sizeable advantage, the home side replying each time the Magpies registered points. The visitors led 15-12 at the halftime break and had extended that to 36-26 with time almost up before Waitohi scored their fifth and final try to grab two bonus points.

Laurie McGlone, Magpies’ head coach, rued the fact his side were unable to prevent Waitohi picking up a couple of points, suggesting they will be valuable in what is shaping as a tight race.

He singled out newcomer No 8 Pecili Katonawale as one of the day’s outstanding individuals, along with inside backs Tristian Taylor and Dan Monaghan, plus fullback Clyde Paewai.

Despite their slow start to the belated season McGlone says, “we are fairly happy with where we are”.

“We have been struggling, but we are back on the board now so hopefully we can kick on and take some confidence out of [the win] as well.”

Waitohi were unable to field a full-strength side but were making no excuses.

Player/coach Jimmy Giles said the absence of some experienced operators was a great chance for the team’s youngsters to step up. He picked out first five Dylan McManaway, flankers Dylan Burns and Andre Hebberd, halfback Karlos Tautari and Mote Malimali for special praise and suggested next week’s bye has come at just the right time for his small squad.

Meanwhile, at Seddon, Central did just enough to hold off the home side 13-8, maintaining the Blues’ unbeaten record and keeping their grip on the John Goodman Challenge Trophy for another week.

Awatere coach Kaleni Taetuli described it as a “tough old game”.

Central led 10-3 at halftime, through tries to Ollie Lawson and Solomon, then Mitch Smith added a penalty after the break. The Tussocks notched a first half penalty to Franco Quinones, with Ben Filipo scoring the only try of the second spell.

Taetuli said one of the major differences was the lineout accuracy, his side struggling in that area and also unable to take full toll when within striking distance of points. His scrum worked well but lost its edge when uncontested scrums were ordered midway through the second spell.

He is impressed with the young talent at his disposal, including fullback Sam Westenra, flanker Will Chaffey and lock Will Smith suggesting his side were not downhearted by their winless start to the season, merely frustrated at not showing their potential yet.

The Moutere women’s team did not fare as well as their menfolk, going down 42-0 to a strong Wanderers side in Brightwater.

Moutere 36 (Penalty try, Mausia Papani, Jack Best, Tristian Taylor, Ben Finau, Clyde Paewai tries, Dan Monagahan 2 con) Waitohi 31 (Taimi Fangatua 3, Gannon Karena, Wade Wilson tries, Dylan McManaway 3 con). HT: 15-12.

Central 13 (Ollie Lawson, Solomon tries, Mitch Smith pen) Awatere 8 (Ben Filipo try, Franco Quinones pen). HT: 10-3.

 

MSU standings after four rounds: Renwick 14, Central 14, Waitohi 8, Moutere 6, Awatere 1.

It was another tough day at the office for the Marlborough Boys’ College First XV, who lost their third match in a row, this week going down 33-15 to Shirley High School in Christchurch.

As they did last week MBC began strongly, leading 10-0 at the break after tries to Nase Taufa and Te Ariki Peipi. Coach Matt MacDougall said that his side were dominating physically and had the home side rattled, as well as taking the typically-harsh local crowd out of the equation.

However it all changed after the break, MBC losing key players William MacKenzie, Peipi and Ryan McLeod in quick succession to injury. Suddenly Shirley, buoyed by their sideline support, were back in the game and began to quickly rack up points. MBC scored a superb third try to one of their standouts, youngster Cooper Roberts, but were unable to withstand the Shirley onslaught.

MacDougall put the result down to another learning experience away from home, and praised the efforts of MacKenzie, Roberts, prop Max Morris and replacement centre Tom Hobson.

Next up for MBC is another away game, this time to Timaru to play Timaru BHS.

Other University of Canterbury championship results: Roncalli 14 Lincoln 0; Christ’s College 54 Mid Canterbury 5; St Andrew’s 59 Waimea 27; St Bede’s 35 Nelson College 27; Rangiora 40 Timaru 36; Christchurch BHS 19 St Thomas 13.

Central midfielder Nigel Satherley spies a hole in the Waitohi defence in Picton on Saturday. Photo: Peter Jones.

Blues back with a vengeance

Central announced their return to premier rugby, post lockdown, with a convincing 38-14 victory over Waitohi at Picton’s Endeavour Park on Saturday afternoon.

The match was a replay of last year’s Marlborough sub-union division one final, but this time with a different result as the Blues, who had a bye last week when rugby resumed, gained revenge for last year’s defeat.

They led 18-6 at halftime through tries to prop Lockie McCormick and exciting midfielder Timoci Tavatavanawai, plus two penalties and a conversion to Mitch Smith, then added three more touchdowns in the second spell, a contentious penalty try augmenting touchdowns by flanker Braden Stewart and utility back Ra Tamati.

Central No 8 Matt McCormick and Waitohi prop Losi Malimali were red carded near the end of the second half for fighting, on an afternoon when plenty of cards were dished out by referee Vaughan Warburton during a scrappy, stop-start encounter.

The home side picked up a try to hard-working lock Dylan Burns and lost a couple of key players through injuries. However, they would have few reasons to quibble over the final result as they relinquished their hold on the John Goodman Challenge Trophy after just one week.

Tavatavanawai and fellow midfielder Nigel Satherley were heavily involved on both attack and defence for the Blues, who were well served by the cool head and ability to clear pressure of utility back Mitch Smith.

Stewart, plus fellow loosie Matt McCormick, impressed up front, along with Jesse MacDonald, who was tireless on defence, plus lock Jone Lasaganibau.

Taine Cragg-Love showed the way for the Tohis, along with fellow loosie Burns, lock Andre Hebberd and hooker Taimi Fangatua.

No 10 Tim O’Malley, until leaving the field injured early in the second spell, dictated play well for the home side, while fullback Gannon Karena and halfback Karlos Tautari did their best to provide spark.

Meanwhile, at the Renwick Domain, the home side continued their unbeaten run with a 21-10 victory over Awatere, leaving the Green Machine and Central as the only unbeaten sides.

Renwick led 7-5 at the break, two further converted tries in the second half propelling them to victory against a committed Awatere outfit, who scored their second try late in the match and finished stronger than the home side.

Renwick coach Glenn Blackmore described this encounter as his side’s toughest game of the season.

“It was a tough grind. Awatere came back well at us, they have a very good midfield and a good scrum … it turned into a bit of a war,” he said.

Like the Picton game, there was not a lot of continuity for either side, a stream of penalties interrupting the flow of proceedings.

Blackmore said Kyle Marfell, Thomas, replacements Daniel Jones and Jayden Lister, plus skipper Josh Holdaway and Tuineau were the pick of the home side’s performers.

Awatere’s best were midfielder Vea, Will Chaffey and Jake Collins.

Scores:

Central 38 (Lockie McCormick, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Braden Stewart, Ra Tamati tries, Mitch Smith 3 pen, con, penalty try) Waitohi 14 (Dylan Burns try, Tim O’Malley 2 pen, Dylan McManaway pen). HT 18-6.

Renwick 21 (Josh Thomas, Cody Weir, George Tuineau tries, Michael Dillon 3 con) Awatere 12 (Sione Vea 2 tries, Franco Quinones con). HT 7-5

MSU standings after three rounds: Renwick 14, Central 10, Waitohi 6, Moutere 1, Awatere 0.

Tasman women’s competition

Moutere 50 Central 0; Riwaka 17 Wanderers 10.

Marlborough referee Tom Holohan discusses a point of law with Waitohi skipper Jimmy Giles during the Marlborough sub-union final at Lansdowne Park last season. Photo: Supplied.

Referee numbers positive as new season gets underway

Marlborough’s rugby referees are in good heart as the sport returns after a three-month hiatus.

Tasman Rugby Union referee education officer Dave Paterson, based in Blenheim, says there will be good numbers of referees available on both sides of the hill.

“We are in a good place. We had 25 at a meeting of the Nelson refs on Monday night last week, 21 referees at a meeting in Marlborough on Tuesday and on Wednesday we had 30 coaches and referees together at a RugbySmart gathering where we covered safety, plus the new breakdown initiatives. So that was really positive.

“We are pretty lucky here. Historically on this side of the hill we have been able to provide refs down to under-11, under-12 games which is brilliant, because in many other parts of the country you won’t get an official ref below under-14 level.”

Two familiar faces will be missing from senior ranks this year, with regular officials Dave Woodhouse and Mark Andrell both injured and out for the season, however some handy newcomers will help fill the void.

One of the new arrivals is former top rugby league referee Hone Kareko from the North Island who has moved south and is keen to try his hand at a new code, while another is Brad Evans, from Auckland, who arrived late in the 2019 season.

Also good to go are MBC students Jacob Collins and Frank Hartland, both youngsters showing plenty of early promise.

Meanwhile, in Nelson, former All Black Kane Hames made his premier refereeing debut just before lockdown, while former MBC head prefect Ben Alexander is expected to step up to that level soon.

“With guys like Mark and Dave out this season it opens up opportunities for newer guys to come through and I think it is important to give them some opportunities, get right in behind them,” said Dave.

He is particularly excited by the fact that no refs have decided not to participate this season because of COVID-19. “They are all very keen to get out there … chomping at the bit really.”

With junior rugby not starting until July 25, Dave is hoping to keep as many referees involved as possible by appointing them to sideline duties in forthcoming women’s and potentially division two competitions.

The opening games of Super Rugby have been punctuated by a steady stream of penalties as teams struggled to adapt to more rigorous policing of the breakdown and offside line.

Dave says the new interpretations have been discussed locally and the consensus was simple. “We want to referee it so that teams can get good, quick ball and keep the space open from phase play.”

Despite the disciplinary issues at the top level, he doesn’t expect there to be a massive penalty count in the opening club matches.

“It’s about adjusting to the referee’s interpretations.

“We have a common sense approach to [the breakdown] … we are looking at intent – players staying on your feet, not coming in from the side or sealing the ball off – if that’s coached, and they get that pretty well right, there will be a lot less penalties.

“I think you’ll see within two or three weeks that coaches and players will be saying that the game is a lot better.”

Impressive MBC Falcons forward Viliami Napa’a bursts through the St Thomas side’s defence. Only a last-gasp ankle tap stopped the big No 8 scoring a second half try. Photo: Peter Jones.

MBC unable to hold out visitors

The Marlborough Boys’ College First XV didn’t start their University of Canterbury championship season with the result they sought, but showed plenty of promise in a tight match with St Thomas of Canterbury College at Lansdowne Park on Saturday.

MBC went down 22-12 to a physical opponent, who finished stronger and won most of the key moments late in the match.

The teams were locked at 7-7 at halftime, a fair indication of a tense, tit-for-tat first 35 minutes.

Lineout issues continued to plague the home side, helping St Thomas score first in the second spell but, as they did in the first half, MBC immediately replied with a try of their own to level at 12-12.

However, from then on the visitors took control, their bench adding value at a crucial stage while MBC’s discipline and accuracy was found wanting.

A penalty after 20 minutes, followed by a long-range try after the ball was stolen in a tackle sealed the deal for the visitors, although the youthful MBC side can take heart from their efforts against a side possessing plenty of size and firepower.

MBC head coach Matt Macdougall said, despite the early setback, “it wasn’t all doom and gloom”.

“Some of our young guys got a taste of First XV footy and they learnt that a couple of key moments can cost you a game which probabaly summed up the game for me.

“I thought we had opportunities to close the game out but we had a couple of brain fades around set piece and made some silly errors around the offside line.

“On the positive side, we had a very young backline out there who I thought may have struggled defensively at set piece time, but they did really well there and in phase play.

“They will learn from it all, they are a great bunch of boys and were pretty gutted after the game. Don’t forget that St Thomas were a handy side too.”

He singled out skipper Monu Moli for his “huge work rate”, plus flanker William McKenzie “who wouldn’t stop tackling”.

Youngster Cooper Roberts made a good start to his First XV career, defending well in a tough position.

“I’m proud of them all really,” the coach added. “The stuff we didn’t nail this week we will fix.”

Next week MBC travel south to play St Andrew’s College, who beat St Bede’s on opening weekend, in Christchurch.

Scores: St Thomas of Canterbury 22 (Nick Price, AJ Abdelaal, Montel Peppard tries, Harry Coleman pen, 2 con) MBC (Monu Moli, Toby McLeod tries, Kyren Taumoefolau con). HT 7-7.

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

Green Machine rolls to top of rugby table

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.

Renwick’s energetic cover defence wraps up dangerous Waitohi halfback Saia Tokai during the latter stages of Saturday’s Tasman Trophy match at the Renwick Domain. Photo: Peter Jones.

Green Machine quickly into gear

Renwick and Central were quickest out of the blocks when the 2020 race for the Tasman Trophy rugby competition began in the top of the south on Saturday.

Opening salvoes in the division one showpiece were fired in brilliant Marlborough early-autumn sunshine, Renwick accounting for Waitohi 40-22 at the Renwick Domain and Central downing Moutere 50-27 at Lansdowne Park.

Both games were typical early-season affairs, teams mixing moments of co-ordination and flair with periods of muddled play and inaccurate attack. The hefty scorelines suggested defence is a “work on”, an issue to be expected at this stage of the campaign.

Renwick have their eyes set on claiming a first Marlborough title and downing the defending champs first up is a step in the right direction, although the lop-sided score line on Saturday was hardly indicative of the tussle that ensued.

At halftime the game was in the balance, the Green Machine holding a tenuous 14-10 lead after both sides had scored twice.

However the break acted as something of a turning point, the home side quickly racking up 26 unanswered points to ensure the vocal home crowd went away happy. Renwick played a more expansive game, linking well between backs and forwards and denying Waitohi field position from where they could utilise their potent close-to-the-breakdown attack.

The Tohis underlined their renowned fighting spirit with two late tries to grab a four-try bonus point, but had to bow to a better team on the day.

Outstanding up front for the victors, who were without props George Tuineau and Quinn Harrison-Jones this week, were loosies Cody Weir, who scored a hat-trick of tries, and Kurt Schollum, plus prop Sione Lonitenisi and lock Jaydn Holdaway. The new 9/10 combination of halfback Ruairidh Swan and Alex Barnsley showed promise, especially given a better platform in the second spell, while midfielders Kyle Marfell and Pecili Denicaucau threatened throughout.

Taimi Fangatua, Corey McCaffery, Taine Cragg-Love, Andre Hebberd and Dylan Burns impressed up front for the visitors, who were missing Corey Bovey and Jack Evans, while halfback Saia Tokai, midfielder Nela Samita and newcomer Dylan McManaway shone in the backline.

Renwick’s head coach Glenn Blackmore was happy to grab a first-up win but quickly acknowledged it was only a small step along the way.

“Waitohi are obviously a tough challenge first up and they brought a lot of intensity, but our goal was to get off to a positive start and the scoreline reflected that.

“In the second half Jaydn [Holdaway] and Kurt [Schollum] really stepped up and I was happy with how our set pieces went, especially with a couple of front rowers away this week.”

Meanwhile at Lansdowne Park, the Blues opened up a handy lead against the Magpies and never relinquished it, although Moutere stayed in the fight to bag a bonus point for scoring four tries.

Central led 33-10 at halftime, scoring four tries and getting good value from lock Jone Lasaganibau, plus outside backs Nigel Satherley and Eseroma Wagalutu.

The second half was less decisive, being drawn 17-17, with the Magpies, who have had an off-season battle to get numbers on the park, battling back to grab their consolation point.

Coach Laurie McGlone was happy on three counts; they had good numbers available, his charges fought untilo the final whistle and, on a personal note, he didn’t have to step into the reserves as happened so often last season.

He pointed to skipper Luke Scott and halfback Tristan Taylor as their best performers.

Scores

Renwick 40 (Rurairidh Swan, Cody Weir 3, Sione Lonitenisi, Pecili Denicaucau tries, Alex Barnsley 5 con) Waitohi 22 (Saia Tokai, Nela Samita, Tiare Tautari, Taimi Fangatua tries, Dylan McManaway con). HT: 14-10 Renwick.

Central 50 (Jeremy Foley, Jone Lasaganibau, Liam Duncan, Eseroma Wagalutu, Samuela Levu, Jesse Eising, Nigel Satherley tries, Duncan 3 con, pen, Glen Smith 2 con, Gareth Smith con) Moutere 27 (Clyde Paewai, Kaleb Avery, Haven Walsh, Dan Monaghan tries, Monaghan con, Kieran Lloyd con, pen). HT: 33-10.

Other Tasman Trophy scores

Waimea Old Boys 55 Stoke 20

Kahurangi 32 Marist 32

Wanderers 37 Nelson 14

The Marlborough-based Tasman Rugby Union staff, from left, Graeme Taylor, Dan Monaghan, Gray Cornelius, Wendy Lindstrom and Dave Paterson, with the Mitre 10 Cup. Photo: Peter Jones.

New-look team to fly Tasman flag in Marlborough

In line with the beginning of a new rugby season, Tasman rugby have set up a new-look administrative team to man their Marlborough office.

Five people will be based at the Lansdowne Park headquarters, including three newcomers to a Blenheim-based rugby role.

One face will be particularly familiar to followers of the game in this province. Graeme Taylor has given long service to the sport in this region over many years. He was chairman of the Marlborough Rugby Union from 1986-1990 and a councillor on the New Zealand Rugby Union from 1990-1996. He also served for nine years on the Marlborough District Council. Graeme is employed as a brand manager for Tasman Rugby and the Mako.

Taylor is relishing the chance to be back in the rugby community and is looking forward to the challenges each new season bring. He sees his main role as “first and foremost looking after the sponsors we have got and trying to recruit some more”.

“It’s a great opportunity for me, and for the Mako, to forge some new relationships on this side of the hill.”

After thinking his time as a rugby administrator was probably over, Taylor, who has been involved in the building industry for most of his life, said he was contacted by Tasman and felt ,”if I can help, I will help”.

“Things have obviously changed since I was previously involved – the rugby scene has gone from being very amateur to a high-class professional outfit … I’ll give it my best shot. We have had a very favourable response in the last three weeks from the local sponsors … they are all happy to be on board.”

Another newly Blenheim-based staff member who will be familiar in these parts is former Marlborough Boys’ College First XV head coach Gray Cornelius. A member of the all-conquering Mako coaching team in 2019, Gray was stationed in Nelson for the NPC season last year, but will now be based in Marlborough all year round making him more accessible to people on this side of the hill. He is still a Mako assistant coach and recently coached the successful Tasman Development team that toured the United States. He will run the union’s High Performance programme throughout the Tasman region, working with players at high performance level, plus clubs and coaches at First XV and club levels.

The third newcomer is 24-year-old Dan Monaghan, who is employed in a split role. One part of his responsibility is as a game development officer, tasked with bringing rugby to schools, plus organising tournaments, coaching courses and the like. He is also the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Mako and will assist with the High Performance programme in Marlborough, a programme which began at the start of February. Last season Dan, who will pull on the boots for Moutere this season, played premier rugby and worked in Nelson, also in a strength and conditioning role with the Mako men and women.

The longest-serving Marlborough-based staff member is Wendy Lindstrom, who will be the community rugby advisor. This will be Wendy’s fourth season at the Blenheim offices.

Last, but not least, is referee education officer Dave Paterson. He is responsible for working with referees throughout the Tasman and Buller regions and brings vast experience to the role. It will be the second year in this role for the former senior rugby referee and first class cricket umpire.

The Tasman Trophy season will kick off on March 14, with two games scheduled for Marlborough. Renwick will play defending champs Waitohi at the Renwick Domain while Central will do battle with Moutere at Lansdowne Park. East Coast/Awatere have a first round bye. Once again six Nelson-based teams will take part – Waimea Old Boys, Stoke, Nelson, Wanderers, Kahurangi and Marist. The competition will run over 11 rounds from March 14 until May 23, with semifinals on May 27 and a final on Queen’s Birthday Monday, June 1.

The Tasman Trophy competition will be followed by a sub-union round, with semis scheduled for July 11 and the final on July 18.

The division two competition is expected to begin on Easter Saturday, April 11.