New Brighton, HSOB to meet in final
New Brighton will take on High School Old Boys in Christchurch club rugby's finale next Sunday after both teams upset higher finishing teams in semifinal action today.
New Brighton finished fourth in Section One and upset top qualifiers Marist Albion 18-11 at St Thomas' school while third placed High School Old Boys hammered runners-up Lincoln University 38-17 at Lincoln.
Old Boys are perennial title contenders and will next Sunday, at Rugby Park, hope to win their second title in three years.
For New Brighton however, it's been far longer between drinks.
The last time New Brighton played in a final, current All Black coach Steve Hansen was in the opposition.
New Brighton beat Marist that day - 29 years ago.
Today it was fitting they went past Marist Albion to qualify for their first final since 1984.
Their match came down to a tense finish and New Brighton nearly faced massive heartbreak when they were a fingertip grab away from conceding an 80th minute intercept.
After their gutsy and well-organised defence kept Marist Albion at bay for most of the final quarter, New Brighton busted out from their own line.
With a match-sealing try in the offing, New Brighton had a huge overlap, but when they attempted to spread the ball wide, a last Marist Albion defender went for broke, but just dropped the attempted intercept.
Both sides scored a try each in the first half, Joseva Ravouvou for Marist Albion in the 17th minute then Fia Meafou 10 minutes later for New Brighton, who led 10-8 at the break.
Hagen Schulte put Maris Albion ahead straight away in the second half before Lucky Mulipola scored with half an hour to go.
The former Highlanders player did remarkably well to score the try, but also did his best to blow it.
At the end of a strong phase of play, Mulipola had Misi Selave unmarked outside him. With the line in sight, Mulipola bizarrely tried to dink back inside to traffic instead of handing Selave what would have been his ninth and easiest try of the season.
Predictably, Mulipola was dragged down just short of the line, but he showed huge strength to get back up and score.
Stefan Moir later knocked over a long range penalty to give his side a seven point buffer which they retained.
Moir will face the team he left earlier in the season in the final after Old Boys ambushed Lincoln University.
In the previous 12 weeks, Lincoln University had won 11 games including handoing out Old Boys two hidings.
The belt was in the other hand today as Old Boys monstered the Cup winners.
They scored four first half tires to kill the game off and knock the spirit out of the students.
At 29-3 at halftime, few of the students' supporters knew what was going on.
Lincoln Uni were without inspirational first five Finn Russell, but they played as if they were missing much more.
Take nothing away from Old Boys, they were brutal and dominant throughout. They had most of the ball and territory and when they were forced to defend they did so with vigour and aggression forcing their hosts into mistakes.
Lincoln Uni scored two late tries to give the score some respectability, but this really was a one-sided semi.
In the Plate games, it was form which won out over reputation.
Burnside and Sumner missed out on Section One after the initial 11-game round robin competition, but they've been slick since.
They easily accountred for the bottom two teams in Section One today.
Sumner won their sixth game on the trot, beating Linwood 30-13 while Burnside crushed Sydenham 41-7 in a repeat of last year's Trophy final.
Sumner and Burnside will meet each other in Sunday's Plate final - the curtainraiser for the Trophy final.
Christchurch and University will play out the Bowl final on Saturday after both had comprehensive wins.
University turned around their loss to Shirley last week to win 38-5 while Christchurch consigned Belfast to a winless season with their 45-15 demolition.
New Brighton 18 Marist Albion 11
HSOB 38 Lincoln University 17
Burnside 41 Sydenham 7
Sumner 30 Linwood 13
Christchurch 45 Belfast 15
University 38 Shirley 5