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Rakaia charges into the final

Rakaia’s Tom Hanham-Carter heads in for his side’s first try in their semi-final win over Springston on Saturday.

Rakaia will get another shot at Luisetti Seeds Combined Country Cup glory after sealing a place in the rugby competition’s final with a 28-16 win over Springston on Saturday.

Last year’s beaten finalists always looked in control against the competition newcomers at the Rakaia Domain, despite Springston putting the first points on the board in the semi-final.

In a vastly different start to the quarter-finals, where Rakaia dominated Saracens early, barely letting the visitors get their hands on the ball, it was Springston applying early pressure in the semi-final.

The side, who were on a fairy-tale run in their first season back in the top flight, were rewarded through a penalty which put them out to an early 3-0 lead, but once Rakaia got the ball, they quickly returned the favour with a penalty to Tom Hanham-Carter. From there, it was Rakaia’s game.

They went on attack and were rewarded almost immediately when Hanham-Carter ran in under the posts after a strong build up which featured a couple of impressive line breaks from halfback Cory Sinclair and fullback Andrew Letham, playing in his first game back after a stint on the sideline through injury.

Springston ensured they kept in touch with another penalty before Letham decided to get in on the action himself, scoring a try which put his side out to a 17-6 lead.

Springston scored their first try before half time, but not to be outdone, Rakaia matched it with one from Thomas Blyth to give themselves a 22-16 lead at the break.

Many would’ve been expecting Rakaia to run away with it in the second half, with the wind at their backs and a couple of big players due to make an appearance off the bench in the form of Seta Koroitamana and Timoci Nabakeke, but they didn’t.

In fact, Springston scored the only try of the second half, with Rakaia only managing to add two penalties to their tally.

Fortunately for them, it was enough.

Rakaia coach Wayne Foxcroft said it was a win, but it wasn’t perfect, and his side still had things to work on if they were to topple Waihora this weekend.

Foxcroft said his side had opportunities in the second half but suffered from “a bit of white line fever”.

“They were that close that many times, they just didn’t pass it,” Foxcroft said.

They’d need to iron out those kinks this week ahead of the big one – the competition’s final against Waihora, to be played at Tai Tapu.

Waihora beat Prebbleton 22-15 in the day’s other semi-final, while the battles between last weekend’s beaten quarter finalists went the way of Saracens, 22-21 over Southbridge, and Darfield, 26-24 over Lincoln.

The day’s other big talking point came down in the plaque section for the bottom placed teams, where Hampstead finally managed to pick up their first win of the season, beating Hurunui 27-26.

In the Canterbury Rugby Supporters Trophy section Celtic and Southern were both in action, with Celtic narrow winners over Glenmark/Cheviot 23-20 after having to fight back from an uninspiring first half and a 12-5 half-time deficit, and Southern drawing with Kaiapoi 20-all.

In the NCRSU plate section Methven went down to Burnham-Dunsandel-Irwell by just one, 21-20, while Oxford and Ohoka fought out the second draw of the day, 15-all.

Joining Hampstead in the winners’ circle down the bottom in the plaque section were West Melton, who beat Rolleston 28-12, and Hornby, who beat Ashley 25-21.

-Ashburton Guardian.

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