Magpies fans have scored a bonus of their own with a decision by the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union to almost half the price for covered seating tickets for Friday night's ITM Cup championship semifinal.

Union commercial and marketing manager Jay Campbell announced all covered seating tickets at McLean Park, in the Harris, Graeme Lowe, Rodney Green and Chapman Pavilion stands will cost $17.50, when the Magpies take on Northland.

The equivalent tickets at the Ranfurly Shield matches over the past four weeks cost $32.50.

Tickets in the remaining half of the embankment end TicketDirect stand erected for the September 6, All Blacks test against Argentina will be $12.50 for adults and $7.50 for children.


The rugby union said the match was an unbudgeted extra, and Mr Campbell said it was now time for the public to benefit.

While removal of some of the temporary seating has reduced ground spectator capacity, and the Ranfurly Shield is not at stake, the union is hoping for a crowd of 12,000 for what could be the Magpies last home match of the year.

That would mean the test and the five Magpies matches have had a combined crowd attendances of about 75,000, figures unheard of in Hawke's Bay since the Magpies played 22 consecutive defences in the 1966-69 shield era.

The union is hoping to attract the crowd straight from work on Friday, opening the gates at 5.30pm for a curtain-raiser featuring the cream of players embarking on their Hawke's Bay representative careers.

The union has fielded 10 representative squads this year, and will pit the youngest of them against each other in the special feature between the Hawke's Bay Ross Shield Primary Schools team and the Hawke's Bay Under 13 team.

Mr Campbell said other entertainment include a band and children can have their faces decorated for free by skilled face-painters, preferably in black-and-white.

"This is all to thank the sponsors, the families, the public for what has been a truly remarkable six weeks of rugby in Hawke's Bay," he said.