There will be a new Rugby League Northland Premiership winner this year after Takahiwai Warriors dethroned defending champions Moerewa Tigers in the major semifinal.

Next Saturday's final at Okara Park will be a re-match of the 2016's crowning match between Takahiwai Warriors and Otangarei Knights who also beat Moerewa in last week's qualifying semi final.

At Trigg Stadium in Kensington, Whangarei, last Saturday, Moerewa executed and defended poorly and lock Peter Prime said Takahiwai beat them "fair and square".

"It's disappointing not to reach the final but I am proud of our team. We lost five Northland players from last year, handy strike power but we make no excuses," said the former coach.

Advertisement

"Takahiwai played better and smarter. They executed well and defended when it mattered. For us, it's about regrouping and preparing for next season."

Takahiwai won 30-12.

Rock Wiki of Moerewa Tigers scores but it wasn't enough to put his side in the RLN Premiership final. Photo/Michael Cunningham
Rock Wiki of Moerewa Tigers scores but it wasn't enough to put his side in the RLN Premiership final. Photo/Michael Cunningham

Winning coach and player Joel Freeman said it was a classic arm wrestle against Moerewa.

"Heading into the game, our focus wasn't on the final. It was about controlling what we could and it certainly was a good effort from our team.

He praised the work of fullback Kuri Tuhoro, back after missing the last two weeks through injury.

Freeman said Tuhoro helped solidify the defence, did a lot of talking, and pushed players to work harder.

The leadership and calming influence of halfback Jesse Epiha was also outstanding, he said.

"We're in a game that's governed by results and we'll take a lot of positives out of this win but that doesn't count for anything if we don't win the final. No one remembers who finished second."

It will be the fourth final for Takahiwai and Freeman said a lot was at stake on Saturday.

"My dad Mark Freeman was the coach in 2008, when Takahiwai first won, and my brother played in that team so, for me, it's more about trying to replicate what he did as coach 10 years ago."

Takahiwai beat Otangarei in the 2016 final and the year before that, lost to Hikurangi— a match that went into double overtime.