by Julian Lee ( 8/05/2013 GreyStar )
West Coast’s top point scorer Beau Cain kicks for goal
At the start of the West Coast rugby season a Blaketown-Marist match would have been a foregone conclusion. Blaketown was looking unbeatable, their only game rivals being Grey Valley, while Marist were still languishing near the bottom of the table.
Blaketown’s 18-7 victory over Marist on Saturday was anything but predictable Marist were set to turn the game at any point, proving how far they have come as a team this season.
Both teams had a slow start to the game, which resembled more of a training session in the first half. But 12 minutes in, Blaketown second five-eighth Rob Thompson had a good run, offloading it to centre Phil Thompson, who scored a try.
This was followed by a conversion by the competition’s top scorer so far, fullback Beau Cain.It seemed like a few of the players on both teams were suffering from slippery ball syndrome as the drizzle kept on coming. Soon enough Marist were beginning to exercise some muscle, pulling off some impressive lineout plays and doing well in the rucks. Blaketown soon realised their Marist rivals were there to play some serious rugby.
With neither side making much ground the strategy seemed to be relying on penalty kicks, of which both sides missed one, but with Cain kicking a second one to put the half-time score at 10-0 to Blaketown.
Blaketown’s lack of enthusiasm for the game was offset by some star performances, especially from No 8 Alan Monk, who was everywhere at once. Otherwise the first part of the second half was very much back and forward with neither side really dominating in territory or possession.
With about 20 minutes to go Blaketown decided to put some genuine pressure on Marist and started taking some ball, with Marist conceding a successful penalty kick to Cain with only 10 minutes to go.
What could have been a lacklustre game ended dramatically. It was easy to tell that Marist second-five Maleli Mudu was keen to play he had some excellent runs during the game and excelled at out-manoeuvring his opponents. Mudu’s time to shine came in the last few minutes of the game, when he grabbed Blaketown’s scrapped ball and ran it down the outside from the halfway all the way to the tryline to score, converted by first-five Josh Costello.
In another potential round upset, South Westland were only narrowly defeated by Grey Valley 12-11, evidence that the Muir Trophy could still very much be anybody’s.
Wests, meanwhile, suffered a 46-7 defeat at the hands of arch-nemesis Kiwi, a disappointing result for the struggling Hokitika team, who only last week gave Grey Valley the run-around and just for a moment hinted they might be finally breaking out of their rut.
Blaketown 18 (P Thompson, J Coleman tries; B Cain 2 pens, con); Marist 7 (M Mudu try; J Costello con);
Grey Valley 12 (B Mirfin, T Priest tries; T Priest con); South Westland 11 (K Nolan try; C Deans 2 pens);
Kiwi 46 (D Green, D Bishop, P Te Rakau, S McClure, M Brown, M Olson, T Tauwhare tries; S McClure 4 cons, pen); Wests 7 (T Bradley try; S Meldrum con).