The semi-finals of the Mitre 10 Cup are done and dusted and have yielded the names of the finalists to compete in the Premiership and Championship divisions.
Otago vs Northland:
In a dramatic upset which few expected, Northland managed to pull one over favourites Otago in the latter’s backyard to book a place in the Championship final.
Sam Nock, Josh Goodhue, Rene Ranger, Tom Robinson and Jordan Olsen were stand-out troopers for the visitors as they put together arguably their best performances of the season.
Northland found themselves ten points in the lead after fifteen minutes thanks to an early try by winger Jone Macilai-Tori and the boot of flyhalf Noah Johnny Cooper. Otago eventually looked like they’d found their stride as Jona Nareki scored after 30 minutes and Josh Timu crashed over for a second on the stroke of half-time to give Otago a 12-10 lead going into the break.
Northland rolled up their sleeves in the second half and were determined not to be denied victory, adding three more tries to their tally while limiting their opponents to just one. The final whistle sounded to the jubilant cries of Jordan Olsen’s men with a final score of 32-19.
Auckland vs Waikato:
The general feeling was that Auckland would take this one, which they did, but their lives were not made easy by a Waikato outfit who came to play.
Waikato had 15 points to their name before Auckland finally popped up on the board through a try by Salesi Rayasi.
Auckland were far from their best and gave an uncharacteristically poor account of themselves on attack, yet they stuck to their guns on defence in the second half, limiting Waikato to just 3 points.
Final score: 23-18.
Auckland will now host the Premiership final at Eden Park next weekend.
Hawke’s Bay vs Taranaki;
The Magpies turned the screws on Taranaki at McLean Park. Spectators were treated to a wonderfully entertaining game which was extremely competitive in the first half-hour before Hawke’s Bay began to run away with it.
As valiant as Taranaki were, they could not stop the Magpies’ charge as the latter dotted down eight times (including a hat-trick for captain Ash Dixon) to book their place in the Championship final against Northland next weekend.
Tasman vs Bay of Plenty:
Defending champions Tasman secured their path to the finals with a 19-10 victory over Bay Of Plenty at Trafalgar Park.
Tasman scored two tries through Quentin MacDonald and Leicester Fainga’anuku with Mitch Hunt adding the extras with the boot while Joe Weber dotted down for the Bay’s solitary try.
Tasman were forced to play ten minutes with fourteen men after Sione Havili was given his marching orders after repeated infringements but, overall, it was a decent showing by the home side who will now travel to Eden Park to battle it out with Auckland in the final.