The odds of Marlborough-based rugby teams featuring prominently in the E’stel Tasman Trophy play-offs became longer on Saturday, with four of the five division one teams on this side of the hill being beaten.
Central, who were the only Marlborough team to pick up a win on Saturday, are already out of semifinal contention, while the best-placed sides lost ground to their Nelson-based rivals.
Waitohi, the highest-ranked Marlborough side, went down to the unbeaten Marist outfit, but cling to fourth place with two rounds remaining. With a home match against East Coast on Saturday then a trip to Kahurangi remaining, the Tohis’ fate remains in their own hands.
East Coast are also still in contention, but will have their work cut out, facing the aforementioned clash with Waitohi in Picton, then a trip Nelson for a match-up with the high-flying Waimea Old Boys side.
With four of Saturday’s five games played in the Nelson area the odds were stacked in favour of the teams from over the hill, who duly delivered on four counts.
The only Marlborough success came in Motueka where the Blues followed up their victory over East Coast last weekend by accounting for Kahurangi 27-19.
In the other away games, Wanderers held off East Coast 33-27 in Brightwater, Marist got the better of Waitohi 34-27 at Tahunanui while Stoke thrashed Moutere 67-10 at Greenmeadows.
The only game played in Marlborough was at the Renwick Domain, where the home side had high hopes of ending their winless streak this season. However they came up against a ruthless Nelson combination who pounced on the Green Machine’s many mistakes and came away with a resounding 43-7 victory.
Nelson made a rollicking start, two opportunist tries to young Nelson loosie Conor Rhind in the first 15 minutes setting the tone for the match. Halfback Mitchell Barry missed both conversions but was on hand to convert further first-half tries to lock Sosefo Vaka and winger Blayne Wanoa-Commons as the visitors quickly established a commanding 24-0 advantage at the break.
Although Renwick battled hard, and had their moments of territorial dominance, they invariably ended with a home team mistake as the visitors played with better control and more aggression.
A second try to Vaka, followed by a touchdown to winger Saul Lewis, inflated the scoreline to 36-0 before Renwick finally got a reward for their increasingly frantic efforts. Michael Dillon, one of the home side’s best, scored their consolation try towards the end of the second 40.
However, fittingly, Nelson had the final say as Rhind completed his trick to put an end to a forgettable outing for the Green Machine.
Renwick’s cause was not helped by a bout of pre-match illness which swept through the camp late in the week, ruling key players Kyle Marfell and Josh Holdaway out before the match and affecting loose forward Cody Weir during the game, eventually forcing him from the paddock in the first spell.
Their top performers were the Harrison-Jones brothers, prop Quinn and winger Zac, No 8 Kurt Schollum, in his 50th match, plus midfielders Mike Vaeno and Falaula Fotu Moala.
Marist 34 (Kasima Sami, Jamie Spowart, Matt Stevenson, Chris Tau’alupe, Joe Taylor tries, James Hawkey con, Taine Robinson pen, 2 con) Waitohi 25 (Euygene Taylor, Taimi Fangatua, Corey Bovey tries, Bovey 2 pen, 2 con). HT: 13-8 Marist
Wanderers 33 East Coast 27 (Sam Westenra, Tiki Onolevu 2, Seymour Lambert, Myles Hamilton tries, Hamilton con). HT: 14-12 Wanderers
Central 27 (Nigel Satherley 2, Francis Roebeck, Braden Stewart tries, Mitch Smith 2 con, pen) Kahurangi 19. HT: 12-5 Kahurangi
Nelson 43 (Conor Rhind 3, Sosefo Vaka 2, Blayne Wanoa-Commons, Saul Lewis tries, Mitchell Barry 4 con) Renwick 7 (Michael Dillon try, con) 7. HT 24-0
Stoke 67 Moutere 10 (Matt McCormick try, Max Freydell con, pen). HT 19-10
Standings (unofficial): Marist 37, Waimea Old Boys 35, Wanderers 28, Waitohi 27, Nelson 24*, East Coast 22, Kahurangi 21, Central 18*, Stoke 17, Renwick 4, Moutere 3. * played nine games, other teams have played eight.
Meanwhile the Moutere women’s team continued their unbeaten run in the Tasman competition, downing Marlborough rivals Awatere 50-0 at Awarua Park.
They lead the standings from Waimea who beat Motueka High School 38-12 in the other top level women’s game played on Saturday.