Intrigue in first fixtures

By Gary Caffell


Rugby

How much can be read into results of the first series of matches in the Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union's Chris Kapene Memorial Cup premier division tomorrow is difficult to predict.

Several of the 10 teams contesting this competition are still struggling for numbers and with the hardness of the grounds also having an adverse effect on training routines, most are clearly behind the eight ball as far as preparation is concerned.

The grounds situation has led some teams having to forgo home advantage, two of which, East Coast and Bush Sports, will meet at rugby headquarters, Memorial Park in Masterton.

East Coast were the beaten finalists for the major championship, the Tui Cup, last year and have the coach of the Greytown side which beat them in the grand final, Ritchie Robertson, in charge of their fortunes in 2013. East Coast will miss the attacking qualities of midfield back Jesse McGilvary, who is overseas, but in Nick Olson they retain one of the region's most prolific try-scorers, and goalkickers to boot.

Bush Sports looked the goods early on when they came into the Wairarapa-Bush fold 12 months ago but their form fell away as the season progressed with injuries clearly taking their toll. Utility forward Jamie Hunt is sure to be one of their big guns.

Carterton, who are rumoured to have picked up some useful talent from outside the region, are at home to Eketahuna while Gladstone, who are also said to have some interesting new faces in their line-up, front up to defending Kapene Cup champions Pioneer at Gladstone.

Greytown, who have Tony Lyford and Sam Mitchell as coaches this season, will kick off their 2013 campaign with a home game against a Marist side reputed to have benefited player-wise from the withdrawal of Masterton Red Star from the premier division series.

Martinborough, which was always among the front-runners last year, host Puketoi, coached by former Wairarapa-Bush coach Graeme Cheetham.

Worth noting is that points gained in the Kapene Cup series, which will be played over one complete round, will not be taken forward into the Tui Cup competition under the format for the premier division this season.

The full draw for tomorrow is: East Coast v Bush Sports at Memorial Park at 2.30pm (A Payne; P Thompson and B Whale); Carterton v Eketahuna, Carterton at 2.30pm (S O'Gorman; D Adams and K Lochhead) Gladstone v Pioneer, Gladstone at 2.30pm (C Jefferies; G Reisima and D Whitcombe); Greytown v Marist, Greytown at 2.30pm (A Stringer; G Hall and G McKeown); Martinborough v Puketoi at Martinborough (G Moorcock; B Stewart and V Peterson).

From a refereeing perspective, the application of the Law Amendment Trials will add interest to tomorrow's matches. Conversions must now be completed within 90 seconds of a try being awarded and with the same ball, knock-ons or forward passes which go directly into touch will lead to the non-offenders having the option of a lineout or scrum, teams have just 5s to play the ball from the back of a ruck and/or maul, the position for a quick throw-in is now anywhere between the line of touch and player's goal-line and scrum calls for engagement have been changed to "crouch", "touch" and "set".

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n2 at 30 Jul 2014 00:43:42 Processing Time: 744ms