Two teams who have struggled throughout the division one rugby season showed their determination to have a say in the final outcome with timely victories on Saturday.
The two lowest teams on the Marlborough sub-union table tipped over higher-ranked rivals, finding form at the right end of the season.
Bottom-placed Moutere celebrated their club day, which saw 21 Magpies teams of all shapes and sizes flock to Awarua Park, in appropriate style.
They downed East Coast 24-19 on a muddy track, the match becoming an old-fashioned arm wrestle with most of the play in the middle of the field.
The home side led 10-7 at halftime, scoring two tries to one, then took control with two converted tries soon after the break to lead 24-7.
Their ascendancy was based on a rugged forward effort, led by Matt McCormick, Aiden Gane, Luke Scott, Ruaraidh Mackessack-Leitch, Haven Walsh and lock Michael Leger-Kula, in front of inspirational halfback Ben Finau and hard-hitting midfielder Aki Kaumavae.
The Coasters, who looked a tad rusty after a three-week break, finished strongly with two late tries but were unable to bridge the gap. Impressive for the men in gold were Sam Westenra, Billy Collins, Sam Houston, Nemia Ranuku, Seymour Lambert and Stu Campbell.
East Coast look safely locked into the play-offs while their victory keeps Moutere’s slim hopes of qualifying for the sub-union semifinals alive.
Moutere head coach Laurie McGlone, who entered the fray as a second half replacement, was thrilled to pick up a victory, especially on a significant day for the historic club.
“[The win] was massive for us at the moment … we have been going through a pretty tough season but it was great to get the result on such a special day for the club.”
McGlone said his sides “game managers” were now becoming aware of what was required to get the job done.
“Ben [Finau] has been instrumental in that … coming back into the game and understanding what we are trying to do. It’s great to have the little general back and hitting some decent form now too.”
Meanwhile, at Lansdowne Park, fourth-placed Renwick accounted for second-placed Central 42-19.
The Green Machine rebounded quickly from their heart-breaking last-minute loss to Waitohi last week, scoring six tries, all converted.
Play see-sawed for most of the first spell, Renwick having the last say when first five Dion Narayan scored their third to give his side a 21-12 advantage at oranges.
Tries to replacement midfielder Mike Vaeno and lock Jaydn Holdaway stretched the Green Machine’s lead to 35-12 before Gene Simiss got one back for the Blues. A last-minute touchdown to Atu Taufa put the seal put the seal on a good afternoon for the men in green and white.
Renwick head coach Glen Blackmore was happy with his side’s defence, labelling it their best effort in that area of the season.
“We worked hard for one another, and some of our points were created out of defence, with players making good decisions.
“It was a really good game of rugby, from both teams who looked to attack throughout. It was tighter than the score suggests.
“We have picked up a lot of bonus points this season, results not going our way, but have never lacked belief … but now we have got to string a couple of victories together.”
Moutere 24 (Haven Walsh, Owen Ika, Amco Cassidy, Mesake Pahulu tries, Max Freydell 2 con) East Coast 19 (Seymour Lambert, Sam Westenra, Sione Veau tries, Myles Hamilton 2 con) HT: 10-7 Moutere.
Renwick 42 (Mike Vaeno, Atu Taufa, Cody Weir, Jaydn Holdaway, Dion Narayan, Zac Harrison-Jones tries, Kurt Schollum 2 con, Michael Dillon 2 con, Narayan 2 con) Central 19 (Daniel Van Wass, Gene Simiss, Jake Cresswell tries, Mitch Smith 2 con). HT: 21-12.
Standings (provisional): Waitohi 34, Central 29*, East Coast 26, Renwick 18*, Moutere 13*. * Still have bye to come.
In the Tasman women’s division one game played as a curtain-raiser to the men’s match at Awarua Park, Moutere were outclassed by a slick Waimea Old Boys unit. The Magpies lost 45-0, being regularly beaten to the punch at the breakdown and suffering at set piece time against a committed, well-drilled visiting pack.
The first time the sides met Moutere prevailed 40-24 but the tables were well and truly turned on Saturday.
The Marlborough Boys’ College First XV were beaten 17-7 by Christ’s College on a heavy ground in Christchurch on Saturday.
The home side started strongly in the UC championship clash, scoring three tries to lead 17-0 after 15 minutes during which time MBC were unable to get their hands on the ball.
Stunned by the early onslaught MBC dug deep and produced what coach Matt MacDougall described as their best defensive effort of the season so far, holding Christ’s scoreless for the next 55 minutes while scoring a converted try, to Tristan Taylor, themselves.
For MBC, flankers Sky Boskett-Barnes and William McKenzie were outstanding, along with prop Monu Moli who topped the tackle count.
MacDougall said he was “really proud of the boys”.
“I’ve been disappointed with some areas of our game in recent weeks but they have taken learnings at training on board and are making progress … their defence was outstanding and we got our penalty count right down.”
Next up for MBC, who are ninth on the championship ladder, is a trip south to play Lincoln Combined on Saturday.
Other scores from Saturday: Rangiora 31 Waimea 18; Nelson College 25 Christchurch BHS 7; St Thomas 40 Mid Canterbury 15; St Bede’s 19 Lincoln 12; Timaru 43 Roncalli 10; St Andrew’s 24 Shirley 0.