Hastings Rugby and Sports fullback Penetana Smith knows he has little chance of securing a Magpies Mitre 10 Cup contract this season.
"Opting to play sevens in France earlier this season put me back out of the picture and I've had no communication with the Magpies coaches," Smith explained.
However, if New Zealand Development Sevens team rep Smith and his Auto Super Shoppe Hastings Rugby and Sports team reproduce a similar effort to Saturday's 23-17 Tui Maddison Trophy semifinal win against Taradale Rugby and Sports at Tareha Recreation Reserve in this weekend's final against Napier Old Boys Marist Smith could have an ideal form of consolation ... Maddison Trophy glory.
"I missed our draw with NOBM earlier this season when I was in France. But I'm definitely confident. We can take some good momentum out of this win," Smith said.
He scored 18 points with the match winning try in the 77th minute and three penalties and two conversions from six attempts at goal. While Smith claimed he was just finishing off with his try he still had to use his tremendous pace to beat the cover defence.
The fact five of the Hastings forwards were struggling with flu-like symptoms added to the significance of their win. Hastings manager James Rosenberg was a relieved man afterwards as his team qualified for their first final since 2012.
"For far too many times we have been on the wrong end of close semifinals like today's so we will be able to take some confidence into next week."
Hurricanes utility back Danny Toala impressed with his option taking at first five-eighth and Highlanders halfback Folau Fakatava managed to increase the tempo when he took the field as a second half replacement.
"Hastings were very good at the breakdown and they slowed our ball down. Loose carries and soft turnovers cost us ... they were good at ripping the ball off us. While we had our chances we didn't have enough momentum or ball," Taradale co-coach Tim Combs lamented.
He believed Hastings were good enough to upset NOBM.
"NOBM like to speed up the game but Hastings can disrupt that plan."
Lapses of discipline proved costly for Taradale who conceded 13 penalties, two more than Hastings. The hosts missed the services of captain and lock Andrew Gardner who was a late withdrawal.
Busy No 8 Iakopo Mapu, halfback Humphrey Sheild and second five-eighth Lester Maulolo were among Taradale's best.
NOBM 36 Havelock North 17
WIT Napier Old Boys Marist gave blindside flanker Ricky Hayes a winning 50th appearance with this Park Island victory.
"Ricky was outstanding. He came off with cramp with 10 minutes remaining. He couldn't have done any more," NOBM head coach Craig Gowler said.
Lock Sean Skeet and hooker Jack Nelson-Murray were others to impress in the Green Machine's pack and Gowler said it was best all three had played this season. Skeet, who recently returned from a neck injury, produced some "big moment plays" and Nelson-Murray again played well above his weight and was an "absolute freak" according to Gowler.
Second five-eighth Stacey Ili and halfback Zac Donaldson were classy in the NOBM backline.
"Stacey reads the game so well and creates so much time for himself. He was good for the Magpies last year and will be even better this year," Gowler said.
"The whole team played well after absorbing some early pressure. We were down to Golden Oldies scrums just before halftime. That's the third consecutive semifinal we've played against Havelock when that has happened ... it's sad when a club of that parity can't get enough front rowers," Gowler added.
Progressive Meats Havelock North manager Gary Revell said his troops did well to trail 14-12 at halftime. Winger Anzelo Tuitavuki was thirsty for work in the villagers backline and openside flanker Jacob Stephenson and lock Phil McRoberts were workaholics in the visiting pack.