With the trophy cabinets locked after an exciting regular season, all eyes are on Toll Stadium for the first week of the RLN Premiership playoffs.

Minor premiers Otangarei Knights take on Takahiwai Warriors in the major semifinal while Moerewa Tigers and Hikurangi Stags will challenge each other in the minor semifinal.

Moerewa and Hikurangi's equation is simple: win or be eliminated.

Otangarei and Takahiwai meanwhile get another opportunity should they be defeated.


The winner of that match goes straight through to the August 5 grand final at Toll Stadium. The loser takes on the winner of the minor semifinal.

Moerewa will be entering the first match of the day with a lot of confidence after an impressive season.

They've picked up eight wins and a draw, proving to be an absolute attacking juggernaut. Moerewa have averaged just under 56 points a match.

Not surprisingly they have the top points scorer in the competition (Jaydenn Bentley-Hape with 194) as well as the top three try scorers in Te Tuhi Tipene (25), Bentley-Hape (24) and Eli George (16).

Hikurangi meanwhile have been a real feel good story.

In their return to the competition they were belted by Moerewa 84-6 and hopes weren't exactly sky high for a strong season.

However they proved any doubters wrong, working their way into a much deserved playoff position.

They have their work cut out but there's no reason why they can't push on for another week in the competition.

Moses Cooper and his Hikurangi Stags have a big battle ahead of them when they take on Moerewa Tigers. Photo/John Stone
Moses Cooper and his Hikurangi Stags have a big battle ahead of them when they take on Moerewa Tigers. Photo/John Stone

Meanwhile after locking up the Minor Premiership, Harry Clyde Challenge Cup and Anthony Murray Memorial trophy, Otangarei have their sights firmly set on the grand prize.

But to kickstart that journey they'll need to knock off the defensively stout Takahiwai.

Otangarei won an instant classic between the two sides last time they met, clinching the result with a late try to winger Bryce Pauahi.

Takahiwai won't be too fussed though. That match was their only defeat of the season and comfortably beat Otangarei earlier in the season 36-12.

They also ended the round with the best defensive record, allowing a miserly 11 points per match.

Takahiwai will be aiming to defend their 2016 title, which they picked up with a tense 18-16 win courtesy of a late penalty goal from Nic Poutuma.

That win was over Otangarei, who will want to exact some revenge on their foes.

The minor semifinal kicks off at 12.45pm with the major semifinal at 230pm. There are entry fees for the games: $5 for adults, gold coin for 6 to 15-year-olds while under 5s are free.