Hosts Napier Old Boys Marist will play defending champions Hutt Old Boys Marist in tomorrow's Spillane Cup rugby final at Park Island.
Superior pace and fitness levels were influential in NOBM's 31-24 victory over Marist St Pats and Hutt Old Boys Marist can thank their 35-7 halftime lead for their 47-41 victory over Hastings Rugby and Sports during today's first round of matches in the 89th edition of the New Zealand Marist tournament.
NOBM head coach Craig Gowler agreed his troops started well and deserved their 24-14 halftime lead but were guilty of allowing Marist St Pats to dominate for long periods in the second half. Captain and No 8 Matt Gardner led the host pack by example.
Openside flanker Chris Johnston deserved his two tries. Substitute prop James Holbrook provided quality impact and his second half try was crucial. Australian lock Alex Williams impressed with his workrate and halfback Zac Donaldson and fullback Michael Buckley were the pick of the NOBM backs.
Centre Jimmy Proctor was outstanding in the Marist St Pats backline.
Hastings Rugby and Sports coach Bevan Lynch said he only had four first stringers in his squad and he was proud of the courage his team displayed in the second half.
"It could have been a cricket score against us."
"We didn't want to come into the tournament too hot. While we don't want to be peaking when we play Napier Old Boys Marist in the first round of the Nash Cup in a fortnight we want to be competitive. I know a few of the boys who were in the squad who lost last year's Maddison Trophy final want to make a statement," Lynch added.
Former Hastings Boys' High School prop Jeremiah Tuiatua proved he could handle the step up to club rugby with a powerful display. Centre Gideon Kautai, who is in his second year out of HBHS, scored a hattrick.
Another member of last year's national title-winning HBHS first XV, dangerous winger Joeli Rauca, deserved his two tries. Magpies hooker Jacob Devery, flanker Jardine Chung Ching and substitute prop Dennis Tapusua impressed with their never-say-die approach in the Hastings pack.
Former Magpies hooker Ben Power, first five-eighth Pakai Turia and second five-eighth Albert Polu were all prominent for Hutt Old Boys Marist.
Napier Old Boys Marist 31
(Chris Johnston 2, Matt Gardner, Bain Champion, James Holbrook tries; Champion 3 cons),
Marist St Pats 24
(Andrew Wells, Ryan Setafano, Isaia Petalo, Sefo Augustano tries; Jimmy Proctor 2 cons). HT: 24-14.
Hutt Old Boys Marist 47
(Ben Power, Mitch Stringer, Connor Collins, Pakai Turia, Fereti Soloa, Todd Svenson, Blake McGregor tries; Turia 5, Soloa cons),
Hastings Rugby and Sports 41
(Gideon Kautai 3,
Joeli Rauca 2, Eugene Sandilands tries; Jordan Thompson-Dunn 3 cons, pen). HT: 35-7