Finals time in Scott Electrical Premiership
It’s that time of the year, when emotion and determination run high and club pride is on the line, where It’s do or die time and no tomorrow for one team. This weekend will see the start of the Rugby League Northland’s finals series with Otangarei Knights taking on Portland Panthers. Otangarei have built steadily through the season and have been one of the top performing teams in the competition. A positive change in on-field discipline this season has helped coach John Hunapo get the best football out of his charges. Otangarei made the top six last year but were bundled out of the minor-semi-finals when they narrowly lost to Moerewa Tigers. They will be looking to improve on their finals placing from last year. Portland, who were also beaten at this stage last year by Hokianga Pioneers, have had an indifferent season. Traditionally slow starters to the regular season they have also been hampered with injuries and at time lack of numbers, however they seemed to have found form latter in the season. The winner of this match will advance to next week, whilst the loser can start planning for the 2017 campaign.
In the second semi-final match, 2016 Minor Premiership winners Takahiwai Warriors will take on Moerewa Tigers in a repeat of last weekend’s game, which saw Takahiwai wrestle their way to an impressive win. Both teams beat each other on home ground during the regular season, however the finals series will see them match up on neutral ground. Both teams have been the front runners in the competition, Moerewa being the only team to beat Takahiwai during the season. Moerewa were knocked out of contention in 2015 when Takahiwai scored in the last few minutes of the semi-final to advance to the Grand Final. It is a situation Moerewa’s captain and coach Peter Prime does not want to be in again, and will be definitely looking to win this weekend and build for the final. Takahiwai, will know that Moerewa will be hurting and Coaches Mark Freeman and Shane Hool will be wanting to build off the good win against the Tigers that earned them the Minor Premiership title on Saturday and take that confidence into this game.
The loser of this game earns a second life and will face the winner of the Otangarei and Portland match on 22 July for another chance to reach the coveted Grand Final Champions title.
Otangarei v Portland – 12.45pm
Takahiwai v Moerewa – 2.30pm
All games are at Toll Stadium. Gates open from 12.15pm – $5 Adult, 12 & under – gold coin donation.