Semi Final Wrap: Crocs stun Pirates as Casuarina book GF berth

Sun, Mar 12, 2023, 11:30 PM
NT Rugby
by NT Rugby
Palmerston sprang a minor semi final upset over Uni Pirates while Casuarina dusted Souths in the major semi final. Picture: From the Sidelines Sports Photography
Palmerston sprang a minor semi final upset over Uni Pirates while Casuarina dusted Souths in the major semi final. Picture: From the Sidelines Sports Photography

Casuarina have one hand on the Darwin XXXX-A Grade trophy after smashing South Darwin in Saturday’s major semi final but coach Luigi Andreoli won’t be taking any chances in the big dance. 

The Cougars kept their Rabbitoh rivals scoreless in a 38-0 drubbing at Rugby Park, wiping the slate clean from a Round 15 loss to the same opponent and stamping their claim as title favourites.

Tevita Faupula, Waisale Sekitoga, David Jacobson, Anthony Hill and Matthew Travers all crossed the tryline while Kieren Danovaro top-scored with 11 points off the tee.

“Honestly it was a bit emotional as it’s the first time in 7 years I’ve not been a player come finals time,” Andreoli said.

“But we played really well, easily our best game I’d say, our discipline was good and we picked our moments well.

“Last time we played Souths we had 8 boys out and different players in key backline positions, so it felt bit like everything was coming undone and it was disappointing to lose

“Having our 9-10-15 combination back really helped on Saturday and we’re confident, but we can’t just be thinking the grand final will be a free hit.”

After injuries ended his 7-year playing career with Casuarina, Andreoli’s first season as coach could feature two grand finals with the Cougars’ B-Grade side progressing to this weekend’s qualifier.

“Our mentality is squad first and our B-Grade boys are still in the finals mix too after beating Swampdogs, so we’ll all be there for training this week – no slacking off – and we’ll be keeping those same structures and same mentality across the group.”

South Darwin will get a second bite of the cherry against Palmerston in the A-Grade qualifier after the Crocs stunned Uni Pirates in last week’s minor semi final.

Palmerston limped into finals with a 3-9 regular season record but saved their best for last with three Craig Rogerson penalties the difference in a 19-15 thriller.

“Palmy have been the dark horses this year and it’ll be a good game between them and Souths this weekend,” Andreoli said.

“Souths are flashy and will go well on a dry track but Palmy are a good young team and they’re tough, might have the upper hand if it’s a wet game.”

Uni Pirates will get their shot at revenge in the NT Bitumen & Asphalt B-Grade qualifier against Casuarina with the winner to meet Katherine in next weekend’s decider.

The Rucking Roos are this season’s fairytale after all four Katherine clubs merged to tackle the Darwin competition and are short odds to bag a historic title after defeating Uni Pirates 20-0 in the major semi final.

Last weekend’s semi finals also highlighted an important message with teams collaborating with No More to raise awareness around family violence in the Territory.

“We also have the Darwin Women’s Motorcycle Riders and supporters coming down onto the field, joiing our teams and linking arms in solidarity,” NT Rugby CEO Nathan McDonald said.

“They formed a circle before the A-Grade semi finals to show unity against family violence – it’s a really good initiative and we’re proud to support it.”

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