Coaches of all four teams in this weekend's Tasman Tanning Whanganui premier club rugby semifinals are playing it cagey, with none taking their opposition lightly.

The favourites on paper are Waverley Harvesting Border, at home on Dallison Park against Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau, and McCarthy Transport Ruapehu, at home on Rochfort Park, in Ohakune, against Byford's Readimix Taihape.

However, none of the coaches is buying into that, with all four agreeing semifinal rugby is a completely different animal to the round-robin competition.

Daisy Alabaster, coach of defending champions Ruapehu, knows full well his side is looking at a rare three-peat but is approaching tomorrow's clash as a stand-alone match and casting history aside.


History does suggest Ruapehu grows another leg at semifinal and final time, but Alabaster has dismissed that preferring to head into the game as if both teams were capable of winning on the day.

"Weather will play a big part and it will be a wet track and that evens the odds," Alabaster said.

"We have a full squad fit to play, although there are three or four who have struggled with the flu for the past few weeks and that may make it hard. I am expecting typical semifinal rugby and Taihape will be dangerous."

Ruapehu has dropped only one of 12 qualifying matches this season - 25-7 away against Border after winning 27-15 at home in the first round.

Taihape coach Tom Wells is confident his lads would throw everything at this semifinal game against Ruapehu and leave nothing in the tank at the end of 80 minutes.

"Seven months work comes down to 80 minutes and as long as they feel they have done their best and left nothing in the tank, then that's all you can ask really. It's our last chance," Wells said.

While Taihape had lost all three home games in the recent Top Six series, they were far from disgraced.

"It came down to a tackle and a kick against Kaierau and we started really well against Border before a sin-bin and a missed tackle had us playing chasing rugby and chasing rugby is not ideal."


Taihape, a side that runs hot and cold, has rarely upset Ruapehu in Ohakune but has fully stretched the "Mountain Men" on Rochfort Park in the last two clashes, winning 17-10 in 2018 and only losing 5-8 two months ago. The side qualified fourth with seven wins and five defeats.

Wells has no injury issues to deal with and has a full squad to draw on for Saturday.

Kaierau coach Carl Gibson was under no illusion how tough a semifinal clash with Border would be, especially at Dallison Park in the South Taranaki village despite being the last team to beat Border at home.

"The last couple of games we've played against Border have been tight and have gone right down to the wire, but semifinal rugby is tough," Gibson said.

This will be Kaierau's first semifinal since 2012, but given the results this season Border and Kaierau are evenly matched although history reveals that the South Taranaki side has generally won at home on Dallison Park.

"It will be a cold, miserable day with the forecast suggesting a southerly and that will blow right down the park. We have everyone available despite the odd twinge and the boys want to come away with absolutely no regrets. There is no doubt it will be a tough match with Border on a bit of a roll, but we really do want it and the boys are fully committed.

"We are so excited to have this opportunity and have a good bunch of supporters heading up to Waverley," Gibson said.

Border have won their last four matches on end including an emphatic 43-10 win over Taihape last start, a scenario that coach Ross Williams puts down return of star players, consistency in training and in selection.

"For the past three or four weeks we've had a full squad and the bigger numbers have given us a bench, a luxury we didn't have previously," Williams said.

"The bench has enabled us to add punch."

Williams wasn't too concerned about a wet, wintry forecast.

"It's typical for semifinal rugby. Kaierau has really improved this season and Carl (Gibson) has done a wonderful job with them. They beat us this season and at home, but not by much and we certainly won't be taking them lightly. That last loss to them was a wake-up call and a timely reminder not to take things lightly," Williams said.