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Bay of Plenty through to NPC semi-finals

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 15/10/2016

Bay of Plenty have surged into the NPC championship semi-finals with a 26-24 win over Hawke's Bay, ending a wretched season for the hosts in Napier.

Needing a bonus point victory to ensure they contest the play-offs in the second-tier competition, Bay of Plenty took 72 minutes to bag a fourth try in the cross-over and complete their goal.

It came via a penalty try from a dominant scrum, which was appropriate given the visitors' superiority up front.

Hawke's Bay crossed twice through centre Jonah Lowe in the final five minutes but they couldn't avoid an eighth loss from 10 games this season.

They were confirmed last week as the team to be relegated from the premiership, leaving little to play for other than pride.

Bay of Plenty were more motivated and it showed in a physical performance.

They had a mortgage on first-half territory and possession yet trailed 10-7 at the break.

A try to halfback Te Aihe Toma was trumped by Hawke's Bay opposite Brad Weber crossing and first five-eighth Ihaia West slotting a penalty.

Centre Lalakai Foketi and reserve prop Solomona Sakalia scored early in the second half setting up just a third win this season for Bay of Plenty.

They move level with Manawatu in third place on the standings but are ranked higher as they won a crucial clash of those two teams last week, 38-33.

Bay of Plenty will be away to either Wellington or Otago in the semi-finals while the final qualifying spot will go to North Harbour or Manawatu.

North Harbour can claim third place if victorious over last-placed Northland in the final regular season match in Whangarei on Sunday.

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