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Late Vaevae penalty propels Pakuranga into Waka Nathan final

Waka Nathan Challenge Cup | 28 March 2012 | Ian Knightly

Late Vaevae penalty propels Pakuranga into Waka Nathan final

In a repeat of last year's final, defending champions Pakuranga?will meet?Papatoetoe in this Saturday's?Waka Nathan Cup Auckland club rugby pre-season final at Papatoetoe Park.

The two reached the final on the back of determined semi-final wins, Papatoetoe overcoming Grammar Carlton 38-20 and Pakuranga edging Ponsonby 23-20.

At Western Springs, Pakuranga came from behind to pip Gallaher Shield holders Ponsonby. In a super tight contest, replacement first five-eighth Sam Vaevae landed the match winning penalty from 30 metres out to give Pakuranga just their second ever win over Ponsonby and set the tone for?an exciting?year of club rugby in Auckland in 2012.

Ponsonby scored two tries early to lead 12-0, closing the gap to 12-3 after the first quarter after a break by former All Black Pita Alatini and penalty to first five-eighth Gareth Arlidge.

Pakuranga remained hot on attack in the second quarter, eventually scoring their first try when wing Aula Silipa slipped over nearing halfime. Ponsonby led 12-8 at the break.

They hit the lead for the first time soon after when midfielder Aki Kaumavae crossed for a converted try, making it 15-12

A see-saw battle saw Ponsonby score again and regain the lead when representative wing Tony Koonwaiyou scored his second try. However Pakuranaga replied through lock Safata Savea and they led 20-17 heading into the final quarter.

The fourth quarter remained on tenderhooks, Ponsonby levelling scores through a Koonwaiyou penalty, Pakuranaga edging ahead again and five-eighths Sam Vaevae kicking the match winner.

In the other semi-final at Papatoetoe the home side pulled clear of Grammar Carlton on the back of a strong scrum effort and a committed team performance.

Meanwhile, Marist will host Waitemata in the Pollard Cup final after they beat Te Papapa Mt Wellington in one semi-final and Waitemata overcame Manukau Rovers 22-12 in the other.

Waka Nathan Cup semi-final scores:

Pakuranga 23 (A Silipa, A Kaumavae, S Savea tries, G Alridge 1 pen 1 con, S Vaevae 1 pen) Ponsonby 20 (T Koonwaiyou 2, A Samoa tries, Koonwaiyou 1 pen 1 con)

Papatoetoe 38 (B Polu, T Iese, B Masoe, T Sauileoge, P Masoe tries, T Iosua 4 con 1 pen, T Sauileoge 1 con) Grammar Carlton 20 (N Vella 2, D Pryor tries, S Hickey 1 pen 1 con)

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