Home sides prevailed in the McNamara Cup semi-finals on Saturday as Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors and Bombay advanced to the championship decider at Navigation Homes Stadium next week.
Having convincingly finished top of the round robin standings the defending champion Ardmore Marist side was tipped to easily account for Pukekohe Mitre 10 Mega at Bruce Pulman Park. But Pukekohe put up a worthy fight and made the home side work hard to eek out a 19-16 victory.
Ardmore Marist coach Doug Sanft said it was a game that really could have gone either way.
“There was not much difference [between the two sides] – it was a real playoff game,” Sanft said.
“Our boys were under the pump a lot so fair play to Puke – they really turned up. We made a lot of errors and that was just from pure pressure.
“I thought they missed a few opportunities and a few penalty goals. They were close to our line in the second half and they could have scored and I reckon the game could have turned.
“It was just a tight battle and we were lucky to come through.”
Bombay scored a couple of early tries to take control of their semi-final against Manurewa Kidd Contracting but the visitors fought back to make a game of it.
Jeremy Clark’s side had its chances but they weren’t able to take full advantage and Bombay were able to hold on for 24-17 win and return to the final for the fifth time in six seasons.
“The whole coaching staff are immensely proud of how the boys played and got through the season,” Bombay coach Jeff Marr said.
“We got out to early dominance and they pegged it back. We finished the first half strongly. There weren’t a lot of points in the second half – it had real playoff intensity.
“Our pack just worked really hard and they had to because they were up against a big pack that just kept coming at us.
“Our tackle half in the first half was at least two to one compared to what Manurewa had.”
Ardmore Marist sent a serious warning out in Premier 2 action after thrashing Bombay 73-0 to book a spot in the final next week. It means the club has the chance at recording the Premier 1-Premier 2 championship double.
Defending champions Patumahoe Dave Redshaw Electrical found themselves trailing Manurewa Wise Property Management at halftime but produced a composed second 40 minutes when the pressure was on to run out 34-19 winners at Patumahoe Domain.
Top qualifiers Te Kauwhata secured a 31-14 win over Drury in the Sid Marshall Shield Premier 3 semi-finals at Te Kauwhata to ensure they advance to their second straight final.
Maramarua had to work hard to beat Ardmore Marist at Maramarua but managed to sneak a 17-15 win to book a deciding game against Te Kauwhata next weekend.
Patumahoe Brady Construction Pak N Save secured a semi-final berth with a tit-for-tat 36-32 win over Karaka in Under 85kg action. Papakura and Pukekohe also picked up wins to hold their spots in the top four.
Drury bounced back from a recent loss to Patumahoe in the women’s development competition to win their semi-final 24-12 at Drury Sports Complex and make it to the final. Papakura and Manurewa lost their respective matches however.