Above: Tukapa captain Mitchell Crosswell has led Tukapa to their second final in two years with a tight win over Spotswood United.
A penalty to Jayson Potroz with five minutes remaining sealed the deal for defending champions Tukapa who march through to the Taranaki Premiership finals beating Spotswood United 16-15 at Sanders Park.
Tukapa will face Coastal at Yarrow Stadium next weekend with Coastal showing dominance all over the park to beat Southern 25-8 in the other semi-final in Rahotu.
In the closest match of the two, both Tukapa and Spotswood United worked very hard in challenging ground conditions as torrential rain an hour and a half before kick-off flooded areas of New Plymouth’s CBD and left puddles all over the field. One U21 semi-final had to be moved to another venue due to the severity of the rain.
However, early in the first half Spotswood’s Toa Halafihi scored first as Tukapa tried to clear from their own 22m for an early 7-0 lead.
Tukapa replied with their only try in the match in the corner to Daniel Bernet who showed speed to scamper through with Potroz able to smash the conversion from wide out to keep the scores level.
With the score at 10-10 at the second half was going to be tight.
Spotswood managed to score in the second half with captain Matt Goodwin getting his work cut out for him after several pick and drives close to the line. Josh Perrett managed to slot a conversion and a penalty in the process.
For the entire match though Spotswood United looked to be on top as their scrum dominated Tukapa and lead 15-13 late in the second half. That scrum was working very well as Spotswood were camped in Tukapa’s 22m area for a long period of the second half but the Tukapa defence held up well and managed to get out of danger.
Potroz continued his kicking form throughout the year kicking three penalties including the most memorable from 40m out to win the game impressing a very healthy home crowd.
Captain Mitchell Crosswell, Louis Duffells des Forges and Pomare Samupo all played well for Tukapa, while Pita Sowakula was outstanding for Spotswood running the ball freely and Matt Goodwin showed maturity across the park.
Tukapa 16 (Daniel Bernet try, Jason Potroz 3 pens, con)
Spotswood United 15 (Toa Halafihi, Matt Goodwin tries, Josh Perrett pen, con).
In the remaining semi-final at the Rahotu Domain, Coastal’s form came out on top beating Southern scoring four tries to one.
Coastal will be confident heading into next weekend’s finale against Tukapa as they look to notch up a three-peat against the defending champions this year.
With the ground having recovered dramatically since last weekend’s water polo-like conditions, Coastal’s home town advantage certainly helped them as they played with so much confidence.
Coastal’s Dylan Juffermans scored within the first few minutes and Rick McKenna dotted down before the break making it look too hard for Southern to claw their way back from the deficit.
Brent Landers slotted a penalty for Southern before halftime for the score to be 12-3 at the break.
Coastal’s defence was outstanding shutting down Southern’s space with only Jackson Ormond showing he was the only really attacking option in the side due to the absence of Trinity Spooner-Neera.
Second half tries were scored by Coastal’s Logan Crowley who played very well and Jacob Gopperth in his first year playing in the midfield after originally being a loose forward.
Thys van der Poel added a conversion while Rick McKenna slotted a penalty for Coastal.
Just before fulltime Southern’s Jade Taylor scored in the corner but that came too late in the game.
Coastal 25 (Dylan Juffermans, Rick McKenna, Logan Crowley, Jacob Gopperth tries; Thys van der Poel con, McKenna pen)
Southern 8 (Jade Taylor try; Brent Landers pen).