Joe Rau, player/coach and co-captain was a class act as Hikurangi set up a 2012 Grand Final replay with the Moerewa Tigers at Toll Stadium this Saturday. The Stags defeated the Northern Wairoa Bulls 40 – 20 on Saturday in the RLN Premiership Semi-Final Qualifier. The score line wasn’t a true reflection of the nature of the game as the Bulls never looked like they were out of the contest.
The injury depleted Bulls never gave an inch to the Stags. Prop – Solomone Palu, Loose Forward – Jake Mau and Full Back – Israel Tahere, were outstanding in a very strong team performance. But it was the Joe Rau show as he directed his team round field capping of an impressive performance with two great tries. Rau was backed up older brother Steven Rau leading from the front and the speed of Innocent Tuimavave.
Defending champions, the Hikurangi Stags, will now face Minor Premiers the Moerewa Tigers in a replay of the 2012 Grand Final, in what is set to be an epic encounter.
The other Semi-Final Qualifier between the Hokianga Pioneers and the City Knights demonstrated everything that is Finals Football. Big hits, explosive running, end to end tries, jubilation and heartbreak are all words that don’t justly describe the encounter. It was the Pioneers who controlled most of the game through a more disciplined graft. The Knights who were the RLN Premiership surprise package struggled to find any rhythm in the game as their flamboyant style just didn’t click. On the other hand, the Pioneers kept to the game plan and chugged their way to what seemed like a match winning 26 – 16 lead with 13 minutes left to play.
However all was not to be plain sailing, on the 67th minute, centre – Pouri Hohaia was sin-binned for lifting in the tackle. What resulted in the last 13 minutes was nothing short of sensational. The sin-binning motivated the Knights into action and passes started to stick.
Firstly, Michael Rauahi made a break from the 60m line – jinking and bustling his way over the try line under the posts, then on the back of impressive half – Herewini Edmonds. Then, leading his team up the field, Lawerence Morrell smashed his way over the near the posts. With both conversions successful the Knights somehow were in front for the first time in the match 28 – 26 with 3 minutes left on the clock.
From a short kick off, the Pioneers managed to get the ball back with the Knights giving away a penalty in front of the sticks. Hokianga skipper, Richard Koroi strangely elected not to kick for goal? With less than 30 seconds left on the clock, Pouri Hohaia who was earlier sin-binned turned from villain into hero as he capped off a slick back line move to bust his way over the try line to snatch the victory from luckless Knights 32 – 28.
The Pioneers now face the Takahiwai Warriors in the second major semi final.
Premier Semi-Finals August 3rd – Toll Stadium
1.00pm – Hokianga Pioneers v Takahiwai Warriors
3.00pm – Hikurangi Stags v Moerewa Tigers
See attachment for details of dates and times of all finals games – Finals Fever
Junior Rugby League kicks off on the 7th of April 2013, with grades of 7’s, 9’s, 11’s, 13’s, 15’s and 18’s.
Rugby League Northland is working with the Muriwhenua Falcons to develop a Mini Mod Leagues in both Kaitaia and Dargaville.
Both will start on 12th May 2013.
Rugby League in Northland continues to make positive steps forward as some of its key participants are recognised at the Sport Northland Regional Awards.
Two key awards were presented to the Northern Wairoa Bulls who won the overall Club of the Year for Kaipara and Jim Larkin who won the overall Coach of the Year award for the Mid to Far North.
“It’s great to see the hard work put in by many people, getting recognised formally. I’m really happy for the Code winners, but a major commendation has to go to the Bulls and Jim Larkin for being recognised across the entire sporting landscape. It goes to show that Northland is taking Rugby League seriously,” said RLN General Manager, Alex Smits