Coastal outplayed and outclassed Clifton in their semifinal to cruise to their second final in three years.
Despite the horrible weather leading up to the match, a vocal faithful showed up to the Rahotu Domain where the men in green outscored the visitors four tries to one for a convincing 30-8 win.
Coastal captain and centre Chris Barron was relieved, yet excited looking ahead to the final.
"It was good to have a home semifinal," he said. "That was key today, to play in front of a home crowd and we're looking forward to doing one more job next week and play the final." The game was all but Coastal's within the first minute.
Off a clearance kick that went down the neck of Coastal's Rick McKenna, the fullback carved his way up the park to set up left winger Brent Stevenson for the opening try.
From there Coastal were on the front foot for the rest of the game. Both teams played positive football, spreading it wide to the flanks.
However, it was Coastal who were driving past the advantage line and making more effective metres than Clifton.
The kick-chase from Coastal was also a key factor to their dominant display. This aspect was their bread and butter and gave their side not only territory, but superb front-foot possession. Coastal halfback Brett Goodin showed aggression at ruck time and pumped his forwards up a level higher than Clifton.
Their defence was also sound, with missed tackles rare.
However, Clifton managed to get back into the game near the end of the first half as their continuity rose and, after stringing a few phases together, they were rewarded with No 8 Sione Lea crashing over the line off the back of a scrum.
With the score at 11-8 by halftime in favour of Coastal, things got worse in the second half for Clifton. Two early tries to Hamish Lawn and Rick McKenna sealed the deal for the home side.
Barron agreed that their first half and second half starts were an important part to their do or die match.
"We were happy with our starts. It was great momentum and set the platform for the rest of the game."
Troy Stevenson crossed over in the latter stages of the second half which rubbed salt into the wounds of Clifton.
On the visitors side, Taranaki prop Ryan Cocker produced another hard working effort. But in all the Waitara men were outplayed and outclassed.
Heading into the final, Barron didn't want to change the process.
"We want to be as relaxed cool headed as possible."
Beaven Dewar is a Massey University student.
- Taranaki Daily News
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