Athletic Marist and Old Boys will lock horns in this year’s Liquorland Oamaru Citizens Shield final after downing Excelsior and Valley in tightly contested battles at the Whitestone Contracting Stadium on Saturday.
Athies and Blues faced off in the day’s first semi final at 1pm in dismal conditions.
Excelsior opened the scoring with an unconverted try from from Chris Talanoa before first five-eighth Ben Palmer got Athies on the score board with a well taken penalty.
Excelsior began to look menacing and touched down out wide for a second time through wing Danny Vaitohi but Kane Middleton was unable to convert.
Athies managed to even the score line before the break with a try from Jared Whitburn and a neatly taken conversion from Palmer for a 10-10 stalemate at half time.
The battle continued with the same intensity in the second half with both sides struggling to to edge in front, the difference eventually came with a penalty from Palmer at the death for a 13-10 win to ensure Athletic Marist’s place in the final.
In the second semi final clash of the day, Valley looked the more animated of the two sides early on, putting the holders under pressure with Brad McKenzie opening the scoring from a well taken penalty.
Despite the early promise, the McKenzie’s lack of accuracy with the boot would cost his side throughout the contest.
Old Boys had a chance to reply 10 minutes in to the tie with a penalty of their own but Seti Talalelei was off target, before evening the score moments later.
McKenzie had an opportunity to edge his side ahead in the 15th minute but lacked accuracy from a centrally placed penalty, the fullback’s radar was off again five minutes later to miss another unchallenging kick.
As the conditions grew worse heading in to the break, Talalelei put Old Boys ahead for the first time from a well taken penalty for a 6-3 first half score.
Valley began the second period in fresh jerseys to distinguish between the two sides as the muddy surface thickened.
The renewed visibility didn’t help the underdogs as Old Boys centre Hamish McCulloch splashed down in the corner for the first try of the tie five minutes in, Talalelei failed to convert as his side held an 11-3 advantage.
Valley hit back with two more penalties from McKenzie to bring the score line to 11-9 and had the chance to take the lead but missed kicks in the 60th, 63rd, and 65th minutes cost the blue and golds dearly.
Old Boys rubbed salt in Valley wounds with a second try from number 8 Soni Tongotongo with four minutes to play for a 16-9 victory and a place in the next Saturday’s final.
Turn to page 16 for more photos of the day’s action.
1pm semi final
Athletic Marist 13; Try, Jared Whitburn, Con, Ben Palmer, Pen, Ben Palmer (2).
Excelsior 10; Tries, Chris Talanoa, Danny Vaitohi.
3pm semi final
Old Boys 16; Tries, Hamish McCulloch, Soni Tongotongo, pen, Seti Talalelei (2).
Valley 9; Pen, Bad McKenzie (3).
By JAMES FORD
PHOTO: BRAYDEN LINDSAY – Valley’s Keegan Murphy challenges Old Boys’ Will Keenan and Manulua Taiti in a line-out during Saturday’s semi-final.