Newcomers Dannevirke were in celebration mode at the Wakely Shield rugby tournament in Taradale today.
The big improvers at the 15th edition of the annual under-50kg tournament, which is played to honour Taradale matriarch Adele Wakely's 50plus years of service to the code, Tumu ITM Dannevirke recorded their first win in four days with a 22-21 victory against Centralines Central at Tareha Recreational Reserve.
It came courtesy of a try from a fast kick off on the last play of the game.
"Definitely our best game of the week. Our team played with lots of heart and lots of mongrel. Central were the same ... it was an awesome match," Dannevirke coach Lincoln Barnes said.
His team trailed 14-10 at halftime. Prop Ben Olsen, hooker and vice-captain Tayor Barnes and openside flanker Connor Andersen were inspirational in the comeback.
Halfback Henry Speedy was the pick of the backs. Blindside flanker Dougal Radford, lock Te Ariki Tangiwai, winger Luca Bricknell and centre Majah-Rose Peachey scored Dannevirke's tries and halfback Jamie Monaghan kicked a conversion.
"We've got Saracens tomorrow in the playoff for fifth. Hopefully it will be a case of third time lucky for us as they pipped us 17-12 this week and by one try in a pre-season match," Barnes added.
Central coach Justin Ward agreed the match was "a classic battle of the country teams."
"Watching the passionate parents on the sideline was almost as exciting as watching the match," Ward said.
Winger George Peacock, fullback Wills Baines and hooker Toby Kavanargh scored Central's tries. Outstanding second five-eighth Lukas Ward converted all three.
Halfback Harry Peacock was classy behind a cohesive pack.
Favourites Progressive Meats Hastings East secured their berth in the final with a 41-10 victory against defending champions Solenis NZ Napier West.
Hastings East coach Dan Gallagher said his troops produced a solid team effort with the entire forward pack laying the foundation and his classy backs providing the necessary finish.
Captain and halfback Conor Gallagher, who has been on fire all week, scored two tries and kicked two conversions. Winger Luukas Szuldak also scored two tries.
Fellow wingers Tiongo Itintarawa and Cameron Paterson also scored tries and Paterson added a conversion. Hooker Jayden Papuni-Matchitt also scored.
Napier West coach Matt Smith said his troops trailed 17-5 at halftime and 17-10 three minutes into the second half. However fatigue set in during the final 10 minutes when Hastings East romped away.
Flanker Jontay Ferguson and prop Tui Wirihana scored Napier West's tries. Ferguson, hooker Khan Smith and lock Harry Keighley were tireless workers in the Napier West pack. Winger Brooklyn Lord was the pick of the Napier West backs.
NZ Home Loans Napier East booked their final berth with a 33-0 win against Countdown Hastings West. Napier East assistant coach Craig Peterson said his side produced a polished effort and they were confident of beating the favourites tomorrow.
Props George Hancy and Conrad Awatere-Madden and lock Keegan Bunce were prominent in an engine room which had no passengers. First five-eighth Blake Gibson, centre Maz Kane and fullback Cory Peterson were full of enterprise in the winning backline.
Kane, wingers Preston Watson and Malykai Tamai-Eria, hooker Maddox Lui, No 8 Charlie Nash and halfback Campbell Rodgers scored Napier East's tries and Rodgers kicked a penalty.
Hastings West coach Craig Wellington was proud of the manner his entire squad stuck together and restricted Napier East to one try in the second half. Halfback and vice-captain Charnika Hapi-Tuapawa was again an influential figure.