Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Rugby: Championship round sparks battle

Add a comment
Joe Tupe was a dominant force in Greerton Marist's win over Whakarewarewa on Saturday. Photo / Andrew Warner
Joe Tupe was a dominant force in Greerton Marist's win over Whakarewarewa on Saturday. Photo / Andrew Warner

The race to make the Baywide Premier top eight for the championship round will be decided next weekend.

The four clubs fighting it out to make the final four spots were all drawn together in Saturday's play adding extra drama and an obvious lift in intensity from the players.

Greerton Marist and Rangataua Sports made the most of their opportunities to jump ahead of Rotorua teams Rotoiti and Whakarewarewa.

Rangataua won 28-20 over Rotoiti at home at Te Ariki Park with Lalaki Foketi, Sasu Wihapi, Mark Roberts scoring tries.

Greerton picked a key match to put together their best 80 minutes of the season in defeating Whakarewarewa 22-20 in a tense encounter at a wind-swept Greerton Park.

Whakarewarewa again could not capitalise on their strong forward pack and the silky skills of the best attacking force in Bay of Plenty rugby in Te Rangi Fraser. Whakarewarewa dominated territory and try scoring opportunities in the opening 40 minutes with the strong wind behind them but squandered the lot.

They had just two penalties to Ryubyn Vaipo to show for all their dominance while Greerton tackled courageously and captain Taylor Jones scored from a rare attack.

Greerton led 10-3 at the break and guided by astute tactical kicking from first-five Elliott Davies took control. Tries to hooker Tane Howe and flanker Joe Key had them ahead 22-6 before a brilliant solo try to promising flanker Sioeli Alofi fired up Whakarewarewa.

When captain Doug Edwards crashed over soon after it was all on but Greerton held on gamely for a well-deserved win.

The decision by Auckland referee Angus Mabey to disallow a bonus point try for Greerton in the final play of the match may be crucial in the final wash-up next week.

No 8 Joe Tupe was a towering force for Greerton and his form and fitness is good news for all Steamers fans.

"I was very pleased with the boys' efforts and how they stayed composed especially on defence. We held our ground and hopefully were able to force an error," Tupe said.

"It was hard times for me last year with injuries keeping me out for several months but each time I play I am getting more confidence."

Whakarewarewa star Te Rangi Fraser says they should have been more clinical in the first half.

"We lost by two and we have to take our opportunities when we get them I suppose.

"We knew it was going to be hard fighting against that wind in the second half.

"We expected them to get up in our faces and they put a lot of pressure on us.

"They are a good side and we were outplayed."

Next week Greerton, Whakarewarewa and Rotoiti will battle it out for the final two spots.

Whakarewarewa have Paroa and theoretically should get maximum points but Greerton Marist will have to win at the difficult environment on the banks of Lake Rotoiti in what could be the clash of the season.

- Bay of Plenty Times

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 26 Oct 2016 03:54:05 Processing Time: 512ms