There are few more satisfying accomplishments for a rugby team than writing up a set of plans on the whiteboard, and then delivering a match where they each get ticked off, one-by-one like a grocery list.

That was one reason for the singing in the PGG Wrightson/Ballance Taihape dressing shed at Memorial Park after their four year journey has reached its ultimate destination of the Tasman Tanning Premier final, sweeping aside an undermanned Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist 46-10 in Saturday's semifinal.

In a cruel blow for coach Jason Hamlin and his city team, of the 28 players who assembled at Spriggens Park for the journey up State Highway 1, only 21 were ruled fit to compete as niggling injuries which Marist hoped would come right by game time proved otherwise.

Crucially, this included talisman playmaker Steelie Koro, as well as veteran players in centre Cameron Crowley and hooker Richard Campbell, while Marist swapped four other backs around in a last minute reshuffle.


As would be expected, their offence out wide was disjointed and hesitant, and while the stormy weather before kickoff had passed over for sunshine, there was still a decent overcoat of mud which made handling of short passes going into contact an added challenge.

The home team knew that score and for the most part controlled their phases and played down the right channels - with kickers Tom Wells and Dane Whale gobbling up territory - whereas Marist could not hang onto possession for any meaningful time after a fatal case of the dropsies.

Taihape's double tryscoring No8 Tremaine Gilbert was in his element, well backed by his flankers in Timi Teepa and Dylan Maloney, who made some great tackles right around the boot laces.

The biggest cheers from the large Taihape crowd, who had decked the park with team banners, came for cult hero Ritchie Iorns as the prop added a barge over five pointer and then kick-chase try to his season tally.

With Luke Whale having shored up second-five, centre Cyrus Paringatai ran roughshod through the makeshift Marist midfield in the early stages, and later on winger Jaye Flaws showed a bit of magic right beside the touchline to somehow slip out of gang tackles and lay on two tries.

Sitting in the dressing shed afterwards, coach Kerry Whale pointed up to the whiteboard where he had written instructions on how the team should approach every segment of the match, which they then met on every count.

"I'm very proud," he said.

"Desire, intent, accuracy. We were quite accurate today and that was the difference."


The side had welcomed back injured former Highlander Glen Horton for his first game in weeks, while Luke Whale and Wells were standouts for their coach.

The team had been inspired that morning by watching recorded messages from their local sponsors and well-known identities, which even included the NZ Sevens team, while the town had turned out in droves to see their side through to another weekend.

"Everyone's behind us, they'll all follow us down," said Whale of the impending final with Waverley Harvesting Border.

"They'll bring their town, we'll bring our town, battle it out. It will be pretty cool."

It had been a frustrating afternoon for Hamlin as he and his injured veterans watched helplessly from the sideline.

"As cliche as it is, the best team won on the day," he said.

"There were things we wanted to do and couldn't bring into play. [Taihape] played a pretty good game."

Taihape lived in Marist's half for the first 30 minutes and while Marist's resolve held initially, the cracks opened out wide as Paringatai fended his way through and dummied outside before carrying the last defender over the line.

After narrowly missing two tries in the far corner from fumbles, a penalty and booming Wells' free kick brought Taihape back down for the pack to rumble at the line, and Iorns wrenched his arms free of the tacklers to dive over.

A Sam Monaghan penalty narrowed the gap to 14-3, but after a 15m lineout steal, Taihape fed Gilbert who scooted low through three defenders at the corner flag.

Dane Whale punished Marist straight after the break as he cleaned up an attacking grubber kick and beat three tacklers to put his team back on attack, then gobbled up a shallow Marist clearance and cut straight through to send Gilbert charging to the posts.

Marist didn't quit as their prop Manu Herring, easily their standout player, and loose forwards Ryan Gill and Richard Graham made a series of surges, which saw Taihape lock Hamish Bennett sinbinned for an offside intercept.

Taking a tap, Herring popped the ball to Gill who stretched out to keep hope alive at 28-10.

But Taihape put the match away in the final quarter as Marist's handling went further to pieces.

Flaws pirouetted down the tramlines through three defenders and the ball was quickly spread to the other sideline for Horton to cross untouched.

Wells added a penalty, then a Gilbert burst from a lineout led to a grubber kick and Iorns brought the house down when he run the race to the tryline.

Taihape had time for one more flourish as Marist coughed up the pill from a Dane Whale grubber kick and the grinning fullback planted the ball in the corner.

PGG Wrightson/Ballance Taihape 46 (Tremaine Gilbert 2, Ritchie Iorns 2, Cyrus Paringatai, Glenn Horton, Dane Whale tries; Tom Wells pen, 3 con, Luke Whale con) bt Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist 10 (Ryan Gill try; Sam Monaghan pen, con). HT: 21-3.