Monday 19 September 2011 | Published in Regional
The Ngatangiia-Matavera Dragons and Tupapa-Maraerenga Panthers senior A grade rugby teams were the deserved winners of the weekends semi finals knockout games to proceed to next weekends club grand finals.
At the Arorangi field a more disciplined and composed Panthers outfit were able to score points at crucial times to defeat hosts and favourites of the Arorangi Cowboys 19-12.
But it was the Cowboys that looked stronger at the start of the game scoring the first try just 2 minutes into the game via busy loose forward Edwin Teraitua.
Not to be outdone the Panthers replied with two successful penalty via the cultured boots of first 5/8 Wallace Aroita from 45m and 30m to give the Panthers a slim 6-5 lead over the Cowboys at the half time break.
With depth on their bench, the Panthers brought on impact players in the second half including barn-storming forward Mau George from Aitutaki to help sustain the pressure throughout the final crucial period of the game.
Ill discipline then cost the Cowboys a penalty infringement and the points were snapped up by Aroita who landed the 25m kick to stretch the Panthers lead to 9-5.
The Panthers then used another penalty 5 metres from the try line to work a set move to their tight head prop Trevor Arona who dotted down for the Panthers to give them a more comfortable 14-5 lead.
Five minutes later Panthers trio Kore Herrmann, Andrew Iroa and Conrad Piri worked a scrum move from 40m out and with ball in hand Piri pinned back his ears to score a brilliant wingers try to further extend the Panthers lead to 19-5.
With 10 minutes left on the clock and against the run of play, the Cowboys scored an opportunist converted try by right wing Rouru Une to close the Panthers lead 19-12.
For the remainder of the game the Cowboys camped in the Panthers half but stoic Panthers defence held off the Cowboys to win the game 19-12 and secure their spot in the grand finals.
At Nukupure Park the Dragons celebrated long into the night after beating the Avatiu Eels 9-8 in what was a lacklustre game.
The expected excitement was nowhere to be seen but it was the Dragons that played with more hunger and with their band of fired up supporters the team managed to beat the Eels with three penalty kicks thanks to Daniel Toa.
The Dragons led 6-0 at halftime and a try to Eels veteran Terry Piri and a penalty in the second half put the Eels in the lead 8-6.
But the Dragons piled the pressure on and a third successful penalty kick gave them the one point 9-8 lead that eventually won them the game.
The Dragons will face the Panthers in next weekends grand finals to be held at the Ngatangiia field on Saturday.
The Senior B grand finals between the Bulls and Cowboys will be played out on Friday.
Also in the weekend grand finals will be the Eels and Cowboys in the under 19 grade, Cowboys and Panthers in the under 16 grade grand finals and the Panthers will take on the Eels in the under 13 finals.
Full semi finals results (at Arorangi) Senior A Panthers 19 vs Cowboys 12, Senior B Cowboys 28 vs Reds 10, Under 19 grade Cowboys 30 vs Reds 6, Under 16 grade Cowboys 61 vs Eels 0, Under 13 grade Eels 15 vs Cowboys 14, (at Ngatangiia) Senior A Dragons 9 vs Eels 8, Senior B Bulls 32 vs Eels 7, Under 19 grade Eels 25 vs Panthers 3, Under 16 grade Panthers 25 vs Reds 12, Under 13 grade Panthers 49 vs Dragons 7.