Wind the clock back to the 2013 Hawke's Bay Maddison Trophy premier club rugby final at Napier's McLean Park.

It was the year Napier Technical upset Napier Old Boys Marist 18-13 and then Tech flanker Mark "Cracker" Braidwood produced a display that matched his nickname. That was also the last season the Texans made the semifinals before this year.

Naturally Braidwood, 30, who will captain Altherm Window Systems Napier Technical from the loosehead prop berth when they host K9 Petfoods Clive in their semifinal at Whitmore Park today hopes that could prove to be a lucky omen.

While Tech have got the team on paper to do the business and an omen on their side, Braidwood knows these factors can't be relied upon.

Advertisement

"We can't take anything away from Clive. They've got a good team with the likes of Tiaan [Falcon] and Karl and Jonah Lowe who weren't there when we beat them in our last two games," Braidwood said referring to a 40-10 victory in the Nash Cup round and a 44-27 win in the second round of the Maddison Trophy.

He is thrilled Tech's starting loosies Kaleb Sweet, Vinny Guildford and Isaiah Martin have recovered from injuries in time for the match and first five-eighth Tamati Samuels is back into 15s mode after international sevens commitments.

"We have got to be well structured so we can attempt to beat Clive out wide," Braidwood said.

The Tech Mechanical plumber played 11 games for the Magpies in 2015 but missed last year's Mitre 10 Cup campaign through injury. He is aiming for more first class play this season.

"I'm pretty happy with my form and hopefully I've got two more games to push my case. As long as it goes to a local I'll be happy."

Clive captain and hooker Jorian Tangaere has led the riversiders to their first semifinal appearance since 2008.

"We've had some good trainings this week with heaps of numbers. Everyone knows this game is pretty special for the club."

A Sport Hawke's Bay work force development officer, Tangaere made his debut for Clive in 2012 and has been captain since 2014. He agreed today's team is the best his club has put out during his time.

"There is so much competition for spots we are all rapt just to be included. At the same time we know we are going to have to turn up and play for 80 as Tech boast one of the few packs which have been able to push us around."

Tangaere and Samuels are flatmates but Tangaere said there has been no semifinal talk in the flat this week.

A 17-game Magpie, Tangaere is aiming for another Mitre 10 Cup squad contract this season.

"If I can keep playing for the next two weeks it will boost my chances. I just have to be more clinical so I can execute my key roles better. I know I'm the fittest I've ever been but I also know my speed and explosiveness can be better."

Always the diplomat, Tangaere poured heaps of kudos on Braidwood.

"Cracker is one of the hardest players I've come up against in club rugby. He carries well and is quite evasive from his days as a loosie, he works hard for 80 minutes and is always in the gym."

It will be interesting to see who is congratulating who out of this pair today. The game has the potential to go either way with a margin of less than six.

Magpies halfback Ellery Wilson will play at second five-eighth for the second consecutive week for defending champions Hawke's Bay Insurances Limited Napier Old Boys Marist when they host Ansin & Monteith Hastings Rugby and Sports at Park Island.

It will be Wilson's 50th appearance for the Green Machine which should produce its 33rd consecutive victory by at least 11 points.

However their visitors have the necessary ammunition to cause an upset particularly with Hurricanes lock Geoff Cridge and world champion Baby Blacks loosie Marino Mikaele-Tu'u.

No forward pack has been able to adopt an in-your-face approach to the NOBM engine room for long enough periods to secure a victory this season.

It isn't an easy task with NOBM captain and openside flanker Chris Johnston and lock Matt Gardner superb at forcing turnover ball on a regular basis.

But if Hastings adopt this approach with the necessary patience levels and commit more NOBM forwards to the breakdown before unleashing the likes of Magpies winger Mason Emerson and Saifiti Saifiti out wide this clash could be as close as the Whitmore Park encounter.

Teams:
Napier Old Boys Marist: Liam Edwards, Sammi Lauano, Migao Lauano, Ellery Wilson, Craig Sharplin, Johnny Lauano, Zac Donaldson, Joseph Penitito, Chris Johnston (captain), Jack Nelson-Murray, Ricky Hayes, Matt Gardner, Jarvy Aoake, Terry Marsh, Chris Benson. Substitutes: Forwards, Morunga Whaanga, Andrew Robinson, Hannon Brighouse, Willy Benson, Sean Skeet. Backs, Sam Weber, Mitch Drew.
Hastings Rugby and Sports: Tom Agnew, Saifiti Saifiti, Timo Vaiusu, Luke Rosvall, Mason Emerson, Ausage Fomai, Jayden Rihia, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Ben Hamelink, Warwick Slingsby, Ben Parsons, Geoff Cridge, Jason Long (captain), Jacob Devery, Paulo Nu'u. Substitutes: Forwards, Desmond Manuo, Dennis Tapusoa, Jono Makris, Danya Tulou, Tamati Ratapu. Danya Tulou. Backs, Enoka Chung Ching, Jardine Chung Ching.
Napier Technical: Jordan Faia, Nathan Ramsay, Tane McGuire, Ted Walters, Misi Lealaisalanu, Tamati Samuels, Johnny Bristol, Kaleb Sweet, Vinny Guildford, Isaiah Martin, Elijah Martin, Todd Cushing, Sam Mann, Tere Joel, Mark Braidwood (captain). Substitutes: Forwards, Matt Myer, Nathan Pulega, Slade Lange, Lesley Setu, Tauese Fatialofa. Backs, Uta Tupuola, Dylan Ramsay.
Clive: Tianua Poto, Elijah Tuavera, Jonah Lowe, Jordan Pineaha, Duff Penitito, Tiaan Falcon, Bronson Hokianga, Karl Lowe, Lucas Goodin, Api Sione, Rana Huata, Josh Eden-Whaitiri, Kereama Peni, Jorian Tangaere (captain), Nathan Bruce. Substitutes: Forwards, Tinirau McIlroy, Tali Faiumu, Beau Tresidder, Shannon Hawea. Backs, Cory Tautau, Sakopo Ofa, Moses Riley.