Finalists found in Taranaki Premier Club rugby competition
For the third time, Coastal and Inglewood will meet in the final of the Taranaki Premier Club rugby competition, sponsored by CMK.
Both teams had to work hard to advance to their semi-finals on Saturday, with Coastal scoring in the 80th minute to beat Tukapa 13-12 at Sanders Park.
Inglewood broke free in the final nine minutes of their clash with Stratford / Eltham to win 27-11 at TET Stadium.
The final takes place at Inglewood this next Saturday and will be a repeat of the decisive games of 2009 and 2014, which were also between the two clubs.
In 2009, Coastal took the win, while Inglewood was the winner in 2014.
* Round robin results do not count for anything in Taranaki Premier Rugby semi-final matches
* The new Plymouth Old Boys are still in contention for the playoffs of the first club CMK rugby competition
* The young pivot does the job for Inglewood against Tukapa
Coastal’s victory was the most spectacular in Saturday’s semi-final. Winger Troy Stevenson was the ultimate hero when he crossed the line to score after the Siren.
It was a déjà vu for both teams, with Coastal having also beaten Tukapa with a try in added time the week before.
As befits a semi-final, the game was close and tense throughout. Both teams have experienced roster swings and Tukapa will always regret the one they lost in the 79th minute.
It seemed inevitable that Leighton Price’s towering figure would be used up front in the roster. But instead, Ricky Riccitelli threw deeper and opposing captain Jeremy Newell of Coastal, who was a leading performer, stole the ball.
Coastal patiently moved the ball towards the attackers, before it went wide. From the resulting ruck, the impressive Logan Crowley handed the ball to Stevenson who scored in the tackle.
Jackson Sinclair’s conversion failed, but it was academic as referee Mitch Young blew up full-time.
Tukapa opened the scoring earlier with a try from Riccitelli and a conversion from Mason Porteous. This followed a line-up victory for Price and subsequent training.
Coastal’s forwards held a clear advantage in the fray. It was from this platform that Newell was able to score Coastal’s first try in the 16th minute.
Rick McKenna, who played his 150th game for the club, put Coastal in the lead after 33 minutes with a penalty.
Tukapa regained the lead after 54 minutes, when a perfectly timed run by Mike Nyssen gave Liam Ward the goal.
Territory dominated by the coast in the final quarter, with Tukapa unable to clear a satisfactorily, which was another factor contributing to Stevenson’s exciting conclusion.
Meanwhile, at Inglewood, the home side had a clear case of “dropsy” in the first half. But the seeds still managed to lead 8-3 at the break.
An early penalty from Rocky Olsen put Stratford / Eltham ahead. In fact, it took Inglewood 37 minutes to wake up.
From a line-up, good runs from Mills Sanerivi and Lisati Milo-Harris, allowed Josh Jacomb to try. Jacomb added a penalty from a wide angle in the final act of half-time.
Inglewood took more advantage of the game in the second half. Captain Jonny Faletagoai-Malase was held over the line.
But there was a payoff soon after when the ball was transferred down the chain to Steven Snoxell to score.
A second penalty from Olsen, after 58 minutes, brought the visitors back to one goal play.
That hope started to look a lot more realistic when an excellent Olsen cross kick was picked up by Niwa Barlow, who scampered 60m to score.
Olsen’s conversion missed, but the game was wide open with 11 minutes remaining.
That was until Milo-Harris, who was now playing on the wing, received a long pass from Jacomb. Showing excellent footwork, Milo-Harris beat two defenders in a 25m run to the line.
Jacomb added the extras, then another converted essay himself towards the end. The swollen score line belied how competitive Stratford / Eltham were.
Meanwhile, Old Boys and Spotswood United will play in the Division 1 final after winning their respective semi-finals.
The other grades will be between Normanby and Kaitake (division two), Coastal and Okaiawa (division three) and Old Boys and Stratford / Eltham (foals).