Breath­ing room for the top four

Wanganui Chronicle - - Sport - By Jared Smith

The Top 4 have now got a big break on the other two teams fight­ing to get into the semi­fi­nals, but there re­mains just a hair’s breadth be­tween them for the home play­off spots as the favourites all picked up wins on Satur­day.

Black Bull Liquor Pi­rates climbed out of the dan­ger zone as they just held off Dave Hoskin Car­ri­ers Marist 27-25 in a clas­sic Spriggens Park derby, cre­at­ing an eight-point spread be­tween fourth and fifth.

Fight­ing to stay in play­off con­tention, Marist led by a con­ver­sion at half­time, scor­ing all three of their tries through Si­mon Dibben, who moved from the wing to full­back, cen­tre Jo­saia Bogileka and lock-turned­flanker Sam Madams.

How­ever, Pi­rates added 20 more points in the sec­ond half, com­pared with Marist’s two penal­ties by first five Ash­ton Coates, as the for­wards who crossed were prop Ray­mond Salu, flanker Ge­orge Foster,

No 8 and cap­tain Lasa Ulukuta, while Ju­nior Ainea switched from full­back to the wing and also got a try.

Fa’alele Iosea started off the bench and took over the goal­kick­ing to add a cru­cial con­ver­sion and penalty.

Wan­ganui Car Cen­tre Kaierau’s brave three-week run against the top teams closed out with a tough 50-31 loss to Waver­ley Har­vest­ing Bor­der in a tryscor­ing shootout at Dal­li­son Park.

After tight matches with McCarthy’s Trans­port Ruapehu and Pi­rates, the in­jury-de­pleted Kaierau met a Bor­der team smart­ing from los­ing the Grand Ho­tel Chal­lenge Shield to By­ford’s Read­imix Tai­hape, and back on their home track they opened it up, scor­ing eight tries to five.

Full­back Nick Hard­ing had a 20-point haul from two tries and five con­ver­sions, while the rest of the light­ning-quick back­line in Kaveni Dabenaise and the

Symes broth­ers – Harry and

Tom – also dot­ted down.

Kaierau flanker Cade Robin­son came back from in­jury to score a dou­ble, as full­back Shan­don Scott added a try and two con­ver­sions.

Their soli­tary bonus point, how­ever, now leaves Kaierau in must-win mode from all their re­main­ing four games, while hop­ing other re­sults swing their way, as they are 14 points back from fourth spot.

Lead­ers By­ford’s Read­imix Tai­hape stay on top of the ta­ble for an­other week as they picked up a 47-10 win on the long trip up the Waito­tara Val­ley to meet Set­tler’s Honey Nga­mat­apouri.

The win erased the dis­ap­point­ment of Tai­hape’s in­jury-time loss on their first visit up the val­ley in April last year, with out­side back Jaye Flaws reap­ing the ben­e­fits as he scored four of his team’s six tries.

As it was last year, Nga­mat­apouri were still very much in the match at half­time, trail­ing 13-10 after tries by Jim Seruwalu and Shel­don PakingaMan­hire, but with lim­ited num­bers this sea­son they have strug­gled in the back end of games and this time Tai­hape put 34 unan­swered points on them.

It was the first week­end of the sep­a­rate Se­nior com­pe­ti­tions and in the Cham­pi­onship grade, Speirs Food Mar­ton brought Ben­nett’s Tai­hape back down to re­al­ity with a 45-7 ham­mer­ing at Mar­ton Park.

Two weeks ago, Tai­hape had upset Mar­ton 37-20 at Me­mo­rial Park to qual­ify for the Top 6 at the last gasp, but with the points ta­bles now re­set, Mar­ton wanted to re-es­tab­lish their hunt for back-to-back ti­tles.

Kelso Hun­ter­ville have been the dom­i­nant side so far, but got a fright from Bor­der as they just hung on for a 15-14 win at Dal­li­son Park. Hun­ter­ville’s sec­ond-half penalty was key as Bor­der added a sec­ond con­verted try.

It was nearly Hun­ter­ville’s sec­ond de­feat this year, and the Coun­ties team which had beaten them had to sur­ren­der their

Stihl Shop Wan­ganui Chal­lenge Shield on Satur­day, as the other ti­tle con­tender Marist Celtic picked up an im­por­tant 33-7 win at Spriggens Park, pulling away in the sec­ond half with 20 points.

In the Se­nior Con­so­la­tion round, Pi­rates went a long way to set­ting them­selves up to be top qual­i­fier as they avenged a five-point loss in May by beat­ing Utiku Old Boys 14-12 on the Wan­ganui Racecourse ground. Pi­rates scored two con­verted tries to come from be­hind at half­time.

In the cross-town derby, Kaierau also got pay­back from a loss in the first round of games, as they beat Marist Buf­falo’s 23-7 at the Coun­try Club.

Marist’s tryscor­ing cen­tre Jo­saia Bogileka gets his pass away.

Pi­rates prop Ray­mond Salu pow­ers over to score in his team’s nar­row Spriggens Park derby win over Marist on Satur­day. PHO­TOS / BE­VAN CON­LEY

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