A rematch of last year's all-Hastings Hawke's Bay rugby league final next weekend is in store after champions Tamatea and second-season premiers Outkast Sports won their semifinals in the Hastings - Heart of Hawke's Bay series on Saturday.
Playing in front of more than 800 people at Bill Mathewson Park, Hastings, Tamatea set sail for the club's eighth final in 12 seasons of Spring-season league in Hawke's Bay, scoring eight tries to beat stout-hearted Premier rookies Bridge Pa 46-26.
On the No2 field, any hope of a Napier component to the major finals disappeared as Outkast beat Maraenui Phoenix 62-24, running in six tries after Phoenix lost a player to the sin-bin with the score at 28-24 going into the final quarter.
With the wind in their favour in the opening 40, Tamatea led Bridge Pa 24-8, but the new side in both halves had significant shares of possession and territory, large enough to provide some concern for Tamatea coach as he prepares for his team's title defence.
"We were good locking-down their structure but we've got to get our defence right," he said, after a match which took the side's average points-against to 22.5 in eight games this season.
Wing Mika Mika and hooker and Colin Hokianga each scored twice, and stand-out players included stand-off Hayzley Robson, contributing a try and landing seven of his eight goal attempts, teenaged fullback Tyson Johnson, who also scored a try, and second-rower Boy Waaka.
In the other game, Phoenix, down 16-12 after having first use of the wind in their game, threatened to go into the lead with a converted try just after the break, and again when they bounced back from Outkast's reply to lead 24-22.
But that was effectively the end and Outkast found the gates wide-open in a last-quarter attack which suggested a real threat to Tamatea, given they were without Peniasi Tokakece, who is expected to be available for the final after returning from a short rugby Sevens trip to Sri Lanka.
Kevin Oli scored three tries for Outkast, and a trio of Fomai whanau contributed a combined 34 points - Ausage with a try and nine goals, Neria with two tries, and Tafita with one.
Outkast's second team missed out on a Reserve grade final when beaten 30-26 by Hastings, who in league's big day at Bill Mathewson Park next Saturday will meet Omahu Huia, 56-26 semifinal winners over Bridge Pa.
In the women's grade, Seals beat Omahu Huia 20-4 on Saturday to secure a match-up with Tamatea women.