Rugby semi-finalists found

STU PIDDINGTON
Last updated 05:00 30/06/2014
Harlequins
JOHN BISSET/ Fairfax NZ
HIGH HURDLER: Harlequins number 8 Teki Veikune clears Pleasant Point fullback Bryce Shearer as he sets up a try for his side.

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The semi-finalist in the Hamersley Cup competition have been found, with just the finishing order to be decided this Saturday.

Pleasant Point dropped out of contention, hammered 51-10 by Harlequins, after leading out the end of the first round.

Mackenzie remain on top but were made to fight hard by cellar dwellers Geraldine, who held them to 14-0.Celtic and Waimate's game game had the intensity and drama of a semi-final with the defending champions Celtic edging home 19-16.

Temuka were also given a fright by Old Boys before prevailing 19-15, with a last gasp try in the 87th minute.

That means the top fours are within a bonus point win of each other with Mackenzie on 45, Celtic 43, Waimate 41 and Harlequins 40.Crystal ball gazing into the final round Mackenzie appear to have the toughest game with a road trip to Temuka.

A win there will secure them top spot and a home semi-final but a loss could see them slip to third, as the competition is so close.

Celtic, Waimate and Harlequins should all win but four try try bonus points could well come into play.

At Alpine Energy Stadium both Waimate and Celtic pack had their moment is an arm wrestle of a first half.

Waimate had the opportunity to go into half time 8-3 but a dropped ball with the line open was very costly and a few minutes later Celtic were in after an impressive drive from the pack from the 22 that saw number 8 Kali Latu score.

Early in the second half Waimate scored one of the tries of the season.

Celtic was penalised for back chat to the referee and halfback Theo Davidson took a quick tap from inside their 22.

Left wing Jade Halkett then made an impressive run bouncing off a couple of would be tacklers in a 50m-plus run.

From the ensuing ruck first five Miles Medlicott saw the Celtic defence was compressed and kicked across to two unmarked players.

Fullback Stephen Macauley had the presence of mind to let the ball bounce and scooped it up to fed his centre Jared Matthews, who cut inside to score.

Davidson conversion had them up 10-8 but only briefly Celtic right wing Jarred Mannex, who had a red card from the previous week reversed, streaked down the touch line to score.

Davidson and Hamish Strachan then exchanged penalties for Celtic to lead 16-13 with 20 minutes left.

Then their was a good piece of rugby from both sides.

Strachan was caught without an support out wide so decided to snap a drop kick but the only defender near him, lock Jamie Engelbrecht saw the danger and managed to charge it down.

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Both sides then exchanged penalties again and with 10 minutes left Celtic lead 19-16, setting up a fantastic finish.

Celtic then grabbed a tighthead close to the line and despite a dozen or more charges at the line from close quarters could not get over.

Waimate then tried to breakout with a last gasp quick tap to no avail.

The tense battle proved the semi-finals in a fortnight will be the closest contests in many a season.

For Celtic captain Hamish Strachan played very well in his 100th senior game, while lock Andrew Darling and prop Garrett Casey toiled away never far from the action.For Waimate, their whole pack stood up and were never dominated.

Blindside Simon Bleeker was never far from the action while number 8 Loni Toumohuni was a dangerous ball carrier but his hands let him down on a couple of occasions.

The back looked dangerous especially when they got the ball wide with Matthews having a strong game, while Medlicott spread on the ball wide well.

On the number 1 ground it was close between Harlequins and Pleasant Point at half time with Harlequins up 13-3 but second stanza was all one way traffic.

In the end Harlequins ran in seven tries with a hat trick to wing Maile I'Ongi as they made a statement to the others in the top four.

In the forwards veteran Craig Miller had a big game as did number 8 Teki Veikune.

Veikune at one stage leapt over Point fullback Bryce Shearer to show he has a full range of skills.

In the back centre Paula Fifita showed he too is a class act and is likely to impress also a a higher level.For the Mud Dogs lock Luke Brice and second five John Peeters never gave up while Josh Robson also tried hard after coming on at fullback in the second half.

Mackenzie certainly didn't have it all their own way against a fired up Geraldine side, which defended extremely well.

It also showed the difference between the competition front runners and the wooden spoon is not that great.

Had the bounce of the ball gone their way it could have been even closer after holding the Rams scoreless in the second half.

For Mackenzie lock Arthur Dwyer impressed while halfback George Lott had a busy game.Centre Josh McAtamney also looked good, running well off the ball Fa'aitu Tuamoheloa.

Geraldine's best were open side Richard Harley and front rower Dan Cummings.

Dan Hall, Nick Hyslop and Matt Kerse also performed well for the hosts.

At Temuka the hosts finally had a close one go their way.

For the Magpies fullback Josh Palmer had an excellent game including scoring his sides first two tries while halfback Josh Rooney was in everything and put in a polished performance.

In the forwards, loosies Joeli Kotobalvu and Keith Darby were stand-outs.For Old Boys open side Brent Prue and Junior Fa'avea had big games as did front rower Maturo Siaosi, while Josh Dick put in a tidy performance at five five.

- The Timaru Herald

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