Semifinal Review - Mitre 10 Cup

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Saturday, October 21, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Taranaki's bogey team did it again when fourth prevailed over first from the minor premiership by claiming a 30-29 win at Yarrow Stadium.


Tasman first five-eighths Mitchell Hunt, who has seamlessly stepped into the role played for so many years for Tasman by Marty Banks, must have wondered if he had let the dream slip through his fingers when making a near-fatal kick to the corner for a lineout three minutes from the end of the game.

The kick missed and Taranaki had a final chance to clinch the win that would have kept alive their hopes of a Ranfurly Shield-Mitre 10 Cup double.

But fortune stayed with Tasman who now face the daunting task of breaking the stranglehold Canterbury have enjoyed on the national championship for a decade.

Canterbury had prevailed in the final quarter, predictably as that has been their norm, to beat a gallant North Harbour 35-24 in Christchurch.

Any fears they would miss first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga, who was required to stay with the All Blacks in Brisbane, were soon allayed as Brett Cameron stepped up to the plate.

Canterbury have made an art form of throwing off most challenges and there is a feeling that while they may have let go of the Ranfurly Shield, the return of skipper Luke Whitelock has been timed perfectly in their Premiership quest.

In the Championship all the signs point to Wellington finally exiting the lower division after putting away Northland 49-21 in the capital. 

Complacency would be their biggest problem although they only need to think back to last season when similarly favoured in their semifinal with North Harbour only to be sunk by the side that went on to claim the prize.

Northland had a marvellous season after some time in limbo and have created a fine platform to build from in the future. Wellington look the part and will take some effort to be beaten.

Bay of Plenty, similarly to Northland but less so in terms of desperation, have performed well. They have an exciting team, strong, rugged forwards capable of mixing it with the best while their backs have pace and class as Otago found out when beaten 48-32 in Tauranga.

There is no doubt that first five-eighths Mike Delany has brought some tactical nous to a young team and he will need plenty of quality ball if he is going to be able to set his side up for the challenge in Wellington at the weekend.

Mitre 10 Cup Premiership Final
Saturday 28 October, 7.35pm
Canterbury v Tasman at AMI Stadium

Mitre 10 Cup Championship Final
Friday 27 October, 7.35pm
Wellington v Bay of Plenty at Westpac Stadium