Home sides Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors and Karaka had to dig deep and come from behind late to win through to the McNamara Cup final after thrilling semi-finals played Saturday.
Ardmore Marist trailed with a little over five minutes to play against Patumahoe Troydon Patumahoe Hotel before a late flurry saw them claim a memorable 35-21 win at Bruce Pulman Park and book a spot at next weekend’s final at Navigation Homes Stadium.
The visitors turned up with plenty of defensive attitude, using superb line speed and an aggressive approach to full effect.
They frustrated Ardmore Marist into mistakes and then capitalised twice in as many minutes to score a pair of early tries.
Doug Sanft’s side turned with the breeze at their backs in the second half and found a game plan that better suited the conditions and opposition, but they were initially denied by a resolute Patumahoe defense.
Eventually though they wore down Reon Graham’s side and Ardmore Marist were able to dominate the final 15 minutes to get back into the game and finally in front.
“I think both teams wanted to play,” Sanft said after the game. “I was quite nervous going into this game because I know what Patumahoe can offer.
“I thought the injection of a couple of our players off the bench – Luteru (Laulala) and Antonio (Efaraimo) and they were a difference there in terms of territorial kicking and some ball carrying.
“I noticed they had some injuries in their props so they were trying to keep their starting props on for as long as possible.”
Manurewa Kidd Contracting made a fast start against Karaka at Karaka Sports Complex but were also chased down late to see the home side progress to the title match with a 36-25 win.
It looked like the visitors were going to run away with it as they spent the first hour in control of the game.
But Karaka fought their way back with a second wind and then pushed in front in the dying stages to secure a famous victory.
“It was a classic game of two halves. We put ourselves under pressure from the kick-off; down 11-0 after 10 minutes,” Karaka coach Craig Hill said.
“There were a couple of silly penalties and a well-worked try from Manurewa.
“They continued to dominate going in 25-10 at halftime.
“A lot of credit for the comeback goes to the guys off the bench. We started to get good go-forward, eliminated the errors and managed to jump on a couple of theirs.”
It sets up contest between the two leading sides all season for the McNamara Cup on Saturday at Navigation Homes Stadium.
Bombay Super Freight overcame the disappointment of their last-gasp loss to Waiuku Land & Sea Civil last week to reverse that result and claim a 27-10 win in the semi-finals of Premiership Plate competition.
They will advance to play Pukekohe Mitre 10 Mega in the final after Sean Polwart’s side got a walk-over win against Papakura Thirsty Liquor.
Drury survived a scare after spending a large part of their semi-final behind Patumahoe Village Bar & Grill at Drury before securing a 17-10 win to progress to the Sid Marshall Shield Championship final.
Unbeaten all season, Drury scored first but fell behind as Patumahoe took it to them.
But the cream rose to the top as Drury moved in front with 20 minutes to play and were not troubled in the dying stages.
Te Kauwhata Proclad claimed a 40-10 win over Te Kohanga at Te Kauwhata – their second win over the same opposition in as many weeks.
It sets up a battle between the two stand-out sides all season.
Manurewa Barfoot & Thompson and Pukekohe played out a 17-17 draw in the U21 semi-final at Mountfort Park.
Manurewa will go through to the final due to winning the last contest between the two the previous week.
They will face Papakura Thirsty Liquor in the final after they upstaged Patumahoe CJM Construction 23-6 at Patumahoe Domain.
That result reversed the result from a week earlier that saw Patumahoe secure a home semi.
Patumahoe Pak N Save Pukekohe won through to yet another U85 final thanks to a convincing 38-7 victory over Waiuku.
They’ll meet arch-rivals Karaka in the decider after they edged Onewhero 19-17 in a thrilling semi-final at Karaka Sports Complex.
Counties Power Club Rugby Semi Final Results - 10 July 2021:
McNamara Cup (Premiership):
Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors 35-21 Patumahoe Troydon Patumahoe Hotel
Karaka 36-25 Manurewa Kidd Contracting
Papakura Thirsty Liquor defaulted to Pukekohe Mitre 10 Mega
Waiuku Land & Sea Civil 10-27 Bombay
Sid Marshall Shield (Championship):
Drury 17-10 Patumahoe Village Bar & Grill
Te Kauwhata PROCLAD 40-10 Te Kohanga
Massey Cup (Under 21):
Manurewa Barfoot & Thompson 17-17 Pukekohe
Patumahoe CJM Construction 6-23 Papakura Thirsty Liquor
Patumahoe 38-7 Waiuku
Karaka 19-17 Onewhero
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