Sifa's hat-trick fires up Dragons
The Bell Block Marist Dragons have secured the top spot for the final of the Western Alliance rugby league competition after beating the Foxton Rebels in Foxton on Saturday.
The Dragons had to work hard to overcome a gutsy Rebels side 36-14 and remain unbeaten with three rounds to play.
Sione Sifa finally penetrated the Foxton defence to put Marist on the scoreboard and Caleb Ritai also soon dotted down.
Maveigh Makatoa added another as the Dragons went to halftime ahead 16-0.
The Rebels came out firing in the second half and scored three unanswered tries.
That woke the Dragons up and they hit back with three tries, including a double to Sifa to give him a hat-trick.
The game was marred by ill-discipline with several scuffles, resulting in man-of-the-match Sifa and Rebels forward Ray Jackson being binned and Jackson's team-mate, Ata Iakalalo, red-carded.
At Clifton Park in Waitara, the Waitara Bears beat the Hawera Hawks 46-20.
The Bears started well, piling on 22 unanswered points before Hawera prop Francis Katene crossed to put the visiting side on the board late in the first half.
An early try in the second half hinted the Hawks were staging a comeback.
However, the Bears soon took control and wrapped up the match with some well-worked tries.
Waitara's best player was half Cruz Rauner, who had a strong game on attack and scored two tries.
Waitara centre Matt Monsall also crossed twice as did Laquail Nielsen, who is off to Sydney to try to break into the Toyota Cup competition with the Penrith Panthers.
Bears fullback Ziggy Tangira was on target with his boot, kicking seven of eight attempts.
The standout players for Hawera were Katene with his strong runs, and hooker Phillip Taylor, who impressed in general play.
The Dannevirke Tigers all but confirmed their final spot against the Dragons, beating their closest competition – the third-placed Linton Cobras – 36-30 at Fitzherbert Park in Palmerston North.
The Tigers built a decent 32-18 lead but started to make mistakes as Linton lifted in the final 15 minutes.
The Linton forwards gained some domination but the Tigers' backs cut them up out wide as centre Zac Wadley-Te Turents grabbed a hat-trick.
In games this weekend, Dannevirke will host the Hawera Hawks, the Marist Dragons will tackle Waitara and the Foxton Rebels will take on Linton at the army base.
The Bell Block Development side lost 56-6 to Coastal Development on Saturday.
In the other development game in Taranaki on Saturday, Western Suburbs beat the Hawera Hawks 46-32.