The top four may have been decided but who will play who in premier club rugby’s semifinals will not be known until the final round is completed this Saturday.
Inglewood’s inability to beat Stratford meant last year’s beaten finalists fell out of contention, leaving New Plymouth Old Boys, Tukapa, Southern and Coastal as confirmed semifinalists.
Old Boys, who are yet to be beaten in 2016, will fill the top spot while Tukapa will also enjoy home surroundings for the play-offs.
Southern are third and a point above Coastal but meet Old Boys in their last match while Coastal travel to Inglewood for the last week of round robin play.
On the evidence of current form, the semifinals are likely to be tight affairs no matter who meets who.
What has also become evident is that referees have now become ultra hot on players infringing under pressure close to the line.
Cam Stone, the highest ranked official in control of last Saturday’s matches, flashed two yellow cards to Old Boys players in the first quarter of their match against Coastal at Rahotu.
Down to 13 players, Old Boys conceded two tries to go 13-5 down before they slowly but surely ground down their opposition byu dominating possession and territory in the second half to eventually win 25-13.
Besides the result, the Old Boys four-man coaching team will be happy given the sheer volume of players who were on the sidelines in the casual wear.
Get a few of them back and it’s more than likely they will have an edge over Coastal should they meet on July 9 at Vogeltown Park.
Coastal’s biggest problem appears to be their midfield at present with Jonny Fa’auli suspended and veteran Chris Barron injured after he suffered a hamstring injury on Saturday.
What will give them hope was the fact they created a fair bit but failed to finish through a combination of poor option taking, a lack of patience and scratchy skills.
Their lineout also came under pressure in the second half, although it appeared to be a breakdown in communication more than anything.
While Old Boys appeared to be vulnerable for long periods, they found a way to win, a trait they have demonstrated on numerous occasions this season.
Elsewhere, Stratford spoiled Inglewood’s chances with their 15-0 win which, by most accounts, could have been by a lot more had they scored from some of the clear cut chances they created.
The victory meant a lot to Stratford who have suffered at the hands of their closest rivals for longer than they care to remember.
There were good performances from a number of Stratford’s players, including fullback Sam Mako whose kicking game was a major factor in the win while prop Kyle Stewart was prominent.
A late Eli Kneepkens penalty got Tukapa home 11-9 over Southern at Hicks Park in what was a fairly dour affair.
Tukapa co-coach Matt Stone thought the match was a bit too stop-start for their liking. He put flanker Adrian Wyrill up as their best player while wing Lagen Kumeroa also went well.
Southern coach Jason Skipper said the game suffered a bit as a spectacle because both sides managed to hold on to possession for long periods once they had the bal.
Blindside flanker Trent Pickering was their best player along with halfback Sean White and prop Murray Turner.
Spotswood United left Clifton alone at the bottom of the table after they won 19-10 at Yarrow Stadium.
The home side’s cause was helped significantly after halfback Cody Whittaker was red carded by referee Max O’Leary.
The best players for Spotswood United were lock Jacob Bourke and flanker Micaiah Torrance-Read while Clifton’s best were flanker Jake Ward and lock Matt White.
At a glance
NPOB 25 Coastal 13
Tukapa 11 Southern 9
Spotswood Utd 19 Clifton 10
Stratford 15 Inglewood 0