As predicted, the top four premier teams will slug it out for a place in the crowning match after convincing wins in the last round of the Tyrepower Northland premier club rugby competition this weekend.
The stage is set for a dog fight when Western Sharks, Mid Northern, Old Boys Marist, and Kamo clash in the knockout stage and both games are shaping to be utterly physical as all four teams have legions of big men who are direct and confrontational.
Western Sharks, which finished the season on pole position, host fourth placed Kamo in Dargaville while OBM travel to Hukerenui to play Mid Northern on Saturday afternoon.
Kamo mentor John Fitzpatrick is well aware of the threats the Sharks pose across the park but said anything could happen in knockout rugby.
Both teams have beaten each other this season and Fitzpatrick said it would boil down to which team wanted the most.
"We've got to make our tackles and make sure our defence line is in check because anything can happen in the semis, you don't get a second chance. The boys have been preparing hard all season to get this far.
"Our goal was to make the top four which we've done and now we want to make it to the final so obviously there's one more hurdle to cross but we've beaten the Sharks at home in the first round.
"They're a big side with a big forward pack. The pressure will be there and we'll just have to play to our strengths," Fitzpatrick said.
His team has injuries but also has good cover.
Kamo missed out in the shortened season due to Covid last year as the top two teams marched straight to the final.
In the other semifinal, OBM coach Paul Biddle said his side would have to bring everything to the semis against one of the form teams this season.
"It's a big ask playing Mid Northern in their patch, although on paper both teams are pretty evenly matched. It's going to require a monumental effort."
OBM is largely injury free and will be able to field a strong team.
The two teams met on June 26 and Mid Northern came out victors 29-10.
Over in Kaihu on the weekend just gone, the Sharks whipped Hora Hora 79-21 with a potent mix of power and deft touches that gave the visitors massive problems on defence.
For the most part, the Sharks did not want to get sucked into an arm wrestle with the visitors, but instead ran them for 80 minutes and forced the game into an unstructured contest as opposed to a methodical plod between set-piece engagements.
When the hosts scored in just the second minute and two more inside 15 minutes, the predictions looked to be on cue.
They boast a massive forward pack and love to play at speed off set piece play.
In Patrick Robinson, the Sharks have a prop with the speed and agility of a dancer half his size and the dynamic, forceful, and bruising Matt Matich has the right sort of combative edge demanded of a No 6.
Fijian Inoke Tavutu is a massive ball carrier with an ability to offload in multiple tackles and halfback Kane Pomare is not afraid to probe the flanks for any crevice of daylight.
He had no right to score from the Hora Hora 22m line when Pomare fielded a pass off a lineout, jinxed his way through defenders and bolted towards the tryline.
But for all that Hora Hora lacked in defence and talent, they kept muscling towards the shadow of the posts with crunching waves of attack whenever they got into the Sharks 22m.
They narrowed the gap to 29-14 just before half time with tries to Mark Bennett and Lyric Brownlee before Pomare's audacious run to the tryline extended the lead heading into the sheds.
The final will be played next weekend.