Northland made hay with some razzle dazzle rugby in the opening half hour before the Mooloos' ascendancy began and ended in clinical finishing form.

Waikato scored six tries to Northland's four in their 48-26 in the Mitre 10 Cup championship semifinal win at FMG Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday.

The home side looked rattled and were 21 points down as the Taniwha ran riot with tries in the opening minutes to halfback Sam Nock, Scott Gregory and Matty Wright.

Northland had hit that magical place where everything they did came off and everything that came off lifted them to a higher level.


Gregory's try was among the best scored during the Mitre 10 Cup competition and the razzle dazzle preceding that score was the stuff the Going brothers from Maromaku indulged in during their halcyon days.

When Waikato No 8 Jordan Manihera was penalised for obstruction in the Northland half, Jack Debreczeni opted for a quick tap before offloading to Matty Wright who found Rene Ranger up close.

Ranger busted two tackles and sent a pass back to Wright and he stepped inside and managed to flick the ball to Gregory steaming down the left flank.

Debreczeni was at the forefront of all three tries while Wright was quick and had a knack for running great lines as Northland threw the kitchen sink at Waikato in the opening half hour.

Centres Ranger and Tamati Tua worked well in tandem, forcing turnovers when the Mooloos threatened the Taniwha defensive line while Tom Robinson and Josh Goodhue were getting plenty of front foot ball.

Rene Ranger and Tamati Tua hold up a Waikato player, forcing a turnover during the Mitre 10 Cup championship semifinal in Hamilton.
Rene Ranger and Tamati Tua hold up a Waikato player, forcing a turnover during the Mitre 10 Cup championship semifinal in Hamilton.

Waikato perhaps got the rub of the green when wing Sevu Reece's try on the stroke of half time was given despite television replays showing a pass skipper Dwayne Sweeney threw to Matty Lansdown in the build up to that try appeared to have gone forward.

On another occasion when Northland were chasing the game in the last quarter, the TMO ruled the ball propelled forward off Robinson's hand before it was picked up by Goodhue who dived over. Those moments, plus a yellow card to Nock just before half time, shaped the end result.

Nock thought the ball was out when Waikato No 10 Fletcher Smith broke free and was brought down metres from the Taniwha tryline. But referee Paul Williams called it a ruck when Nock picked up the ball.

Knockout football, when both teams come at it with everything, creates a world where small things matter and the margin between success and failure is tiny.

Apart from having a lethal boot, Debreczeni's power in breaking tackles was evident when he swatted two defenders down the midfield channel in the opening minute and opts to offload to an unmarked Nock on his right rather than Wright darting on his left.

Nock ran a classic halfback support line and raced 22m to score.

Ranger broke free from kick off and found his midfield partner Tua whose chip ahead for Robinson landed on the full.

Waikato struck back after Northland forwards were penalised for obstructing a jumper in a lineout. After throwing in the lineout, hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho joined the driving maul and peeled off after a gap opened to score.

Debreczeni missed a penalty from in front but made up for it after carving open the Waikato defence and sending Wright under the posts.

The former Melbourne Rebels pivot exploited a fractured defence after Sweeney stepped out of the defensive line and a gap opened for Debreczeni to run through.

Then came Nock's sin binning and Waikato put on three tries in the space of five minutes either side of halftime.

Halfback Jack Stratton scored off an 8-9 scrum move, before a tremendous break and offload by new Maori All Blacks fullback Lansdown saw Reece score the first of a 19-minute quartet.

Reece nabbed two more, one from an intercept of a Gregory pass and then the last from a long cutout pass by right wing Tyler Campbell.

Despite two late sin innings of Mitch Jacobson and the impressive James Tucker, Waikato had the match in hand.

There was time for Jono Kitto to dart over on the short side and then Sam McNamara was most unlucky to have a try ruled out for a purported forward pass.

Waikato 48 (Sevu Reece 4, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Jack Stratton tries; Fletcher Smith 6 con, 2 pen) Northland 26 (Sam Nock, Scott Gregory, Matt Wright, Jono Kitto tries; Jack Debreczeni 3 con) HT: 21-21