HE Tauaa and the Cowboys will battle it out in the Southland premier rugby league grand final on Saturday.
The Cowboys will head into the grand final as favourites after going through the season undefeated.
They were scheduled to play Winton City in the first semi-final of the day at Sandy Point last Saturday, but Winton City had to default after they could only muster five players for the game. Winton City have struggled with player numbers all season.
He Tauaa will contest the grand final for the seventh straight season.
Their semi-final against Cooks last Saturday could have gone either way.
He Tauaa started strongly, posting two unanswered tries in the first five minutes.
However, Cooks fought back and it was all tied up at half-time, 12-all.
After the break, Cooks began to open the He Tauaa defence with some hard running and jumped out to a 22-12 lead.
With time ticking away, He Tauaa fought their way back into the game. With 15 minutes remaining, a converted try cut the margin to four points.
With 10 minutes to go, He Tauaa found a gap in the Cooks defence and crossed for another converted try to take the lead.
Two minutes later, He Tauaa scored in the corner with the conversion making it 30-22.
Cooks were not going to give up and gave everything they had, but with time almost up He Tauaa made a break through the backs and crossed over the line again. The conversion pushed the full-time score out to He Tauaa 36, Cooks 22.
It was a good game of free-flowing league, with some crunching tackles and some hard running.
2018 grand final: Cowboys v He Tauaa, Saturday, 2.30pm, SDRL Grounds, Elles Rd
Dave Loudon – Southland District Rugby League