All four teams will be hoping for the bounce of the ball in Saturday's Tasman Tanning Wanganui premier rugby semifinals.

McCarthy Transport Ruapehu coach Daisy Alabaster and Waverley Harvesting Border conditioner Ross Williams are taking nothing for granted and were both coy about their respective chances.

While Williams conceded Ruapehu can grow another leg at semi time and especially at home, but he was adamant his Border lads were not travelling to Ohakune just to make up the numbers.

"This will be the first time this year we'll have 22. At times we've struggled with injuries, including against Ruapehu this season, but that was no excuse," Williams said.

Advertisement

"We certainly respect Ruapehu, they've got a few guys who have been in this situation before and that helps, but hey, we are not going just to make up the numbers. There's a lot of excitment in the team and we'll certainly be giving it a go.

"But it is finals rugby and anything can happen, the bounce of the ball. There will be nothing left on the paddock."

Alabaster agreed you needed the rub of the green to go your way in finals rugby and that included the weather.

"The weather could be an issue, although it is meant to be clearing Friday and Saturday," Alabaster said yesterday.

"I think we'd all prefer a dry track. But everything seems to be going okay for us. Hopefully we can field 22 and with luck Mitchell Millar will be back (from sevens duty). We have a few good guys on the bench though. We are not taking Border lightly."

Ruapehu lock and former Whanganui and New Zealand Heartland captain Peter Rowe had returned from his short-lived retirement this season to sit on the bench. Rowe is always extremely dangerous even when he comes onto the paddock as an impact player.

Ruapehu easily disposed of former leaders Black Bull Liquor Pirates 36-7 last weekend to earn a home semi against Border.

This season Ruapehu headed Border 22-19 in the first round in Ohakune and 26-12 at Waverley.

Border ripped Settlers Honey Ngamatapouri apart 102-7 last Saturday, including 16 tries (six of them from mid-fielder Kaveni Dabenaise.

Pirates will be home to Byford's Readimix Taihape in the other semifinal after the northern visitors eliminated Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist 20-14.

The win over Marist enables Taihape to hold the Grand Hotel Challenge Shield for the season, but its only focus tomorrow will be toppling Pirates.

Pirates do have the edge over Taihape this season with 23-17 (away) and 23-15 (home) wins on the board.

Taihape will be without reserve winger Dylan Ratana who has had pins implanted to help mend the arm he broke last week.

Player/coach Dane Whale said other than Ratana, his side was relatively injury-free and ready to go.

"It's knock out rugby, so we will give it everything we've got," Whale said.
Pirates has its own issues and has been without three key Samoan overseas-based players for the past two matches. They are waiting to have visas re-issued.

Coach Phillip Morris could not be contacted to confirm whether halfback Fa'alele Iosua, flanker Emile Fanene and prop Raymond Salu would be available this weekend.