Mitre 10 Cup Semifinals
Tasman 18 Auckland 9
It was a tough old go in Blenheim before Tasman could claim the right to a home final next week. Auckland turned up in a far more committed manner than the last time the two sides met, and pushed the home team as hard as they have been pushed all season. There were only penalty goals in it at halftime, Auckland having been the dominant side but just unable to breach the desperate home defence. There were only 10 minutes left when lock Quinten Strange capped off good work by Fetuli Paea and scored the first try. Auckland pulled back a penalty goal but it was Alex Nankiville who broke the deadlock when fed into a hole by fullback David Havili to score three minutes from the end.
Scorers: Tasman 18 (Quinten Strange, Alex Nankivell tries; Mitch Hunt con, 2 pen) Auckland 9 (Harry Plummer 3 pen). HT: 6-3
When Wellington's big men like No 8 Ben Nicholas and lock Vaea Fifita get room to run the ball they provide great set-up and fullback Trent Renata benefited with the first try. Canterbury's kicking game lacked early accuracy and allowed lock James Blackwell to finish off a counter move. Then complementary work between forwards and backs resulted in wing Ben Lam's try. Leading 17-0 at the turn, Wellington had to face a Canterbury surge with three forward-based tries to No 8 Luke Whitelock and driving lineout play that saw hooker Shilo Klein score twice – something that will not have gone unnoticed across Cook Strait by Tasman ahead of next week's final – but the gap was too far to overcome.
Scorers: Wellington 30 (Trent Renata, James Blackwell, Ben Lam tries, Jackson Garden-Bachop 3 con, 2 pen, dropped goal) Canterbury 19 (Luke Whitelock, Shilo Klein 2 tries; Brett Cameron 2 con). HT: 17-0
Bay of Plenty 64 Manawatu 3
Demonstrating outstanding forward power, Bay of Plenty overpowered Manawatu in their semifinal in Rotorua on Friday. Setting a solid foundation they provided classic front foot ball for Bay of Plenty's backs, of whom none shone more than fullback Emoni Narawa whose speed into the line made the most of ineffective Manawatu tackling. With a home final, Bay of Plenty have a Premiership berth well and truly in their sights.
Scorers: Bay of Plenty 64 (Emoni Narawa 3, Joe Ravouvou, Nathan Vella, Hoani Matenga, Richard Judd, Aidan Ross, Pryor Collier, Jason Robertson tries; Chase Tiatia 5 con; Robertson 2 con) Manawatu 3 (Sam Malcolm pen). HT: 31-3
It took until extra time but Hawke's Bay came from 7-21 down to beat Otago and claim the finals berth in a thrilling game in Napier. Otago hit Hawke's Bay hard from the opening with superb running from fullback Michael Collins and wing Jona Nareki creating the first two tries. Hawke's Bay got themselves back in the game to be 14-21 down but then their own superb running, with good play from lively halfback Folau Fakatava helping them claim the lead before Otago came back and levelled the scores at 31-31 required extra time. First five-eighths Josh Ioane landed a 50-metre penalty goal but the key difference was the try to flying wing Mason Emerson which gave the home side a crucial lead.
Scorers: Hawke's Bay 44 (Neria Fomai, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Lincoln McClutchie, Devan Flanders, Mason Emerson tries; Tiaan Falcon 5 con, 3 pen) Otago 39 (Michael Collins 2, Slade McDowall, Aleki Morris-Lome, Mika Mafi tries; Josh Ioane 4 con, 2 pen). HT: 14-24. FT: 31-31