Stoke’s Blair Princep in action during this season's NPD Trophy. Stoke's loss to East Coast on Saturday has knocked the Nelson champions out of the competition. Photo: Barry Whitnall/Shuttersport.

Stoke crashes out of title contention

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The Nelson sub-union champions have been mathematically eliminated from NPD Tasman Trophy title contention.

With a round still to play, Stoke RFC crashed out on Saturday after losing 36-26 to East Coast in Marlborough.

All five games were staged over the hill on Saturday, Nelson managing three wins and confirming three sides for the play-offs starting on July 14.

Nelson and Marist both registered wins over Waitohi and Central respectively to confirm their appearances come finals footy.

Nelson won 40-28 at Endeavour Park while Central lost 41-36 to Marist at Lansdowne Park and Moutere went down to Waimea Old Boys 45-29 at Awarua Park, who, along with Renwick, have also confirmed a finals berth.

However, the final pecking order is yet to be decided – Marist and Renwick meet this week while East Coast host Waimea Old Boys and Nelson have the bye.

The John Goodman Memorial trophy holders will take plenty of confidence into their round 10 clash with Marist, having dispatched Wanderers 43-33.

Renwick scored three to the visitors’ two in the first spell to lead 20-14 at the break, then added three more in the second spell to gain ascendancy.

Wanderers were hit by an early second-half blitz, the Green Machine coming out firing and quickly racing to a 30-14 lead.

They looked set to dominate from there but Wanderers, led by No 8 Gabba De Kock, prop Ryan Coxon, lock Sam Liebezeit and skipper Fletcher Matthews at fullback, scored two touchdowns of their own within three minutes to close the gap to just two points and hush the home crowd.

However, Renwick displayed the tenacity and composure that has marked their recent efforts, two penalties to replacement Kurt Schollum and a late try to outstanding winger Kavekini Tabu settling their nerves.

Wanderers’ cause was not helped when Liebezeit was binned close to the end, however, his teammates dug deep and scored the game’s final try with time up on the clock.

Renwick was missing blockbusting midfielder Michael Vaeno but had a ready-made replacement in Mako player Levi Aumua who frequently punctured the Wanderers’ defence, providing an effective target in midfield for the Green Machine to run their plays off.

Winger Regan Marshall was also prominent, both on attack and defence, centre Falaula Fotu Moala was an ever-present danger, while loose forward Josh Holdaway, lock Sam White and prop Quinn Harrison-Jones caught the eye.