The Auckland University Squids and the Eden Lizards will do battle in the inaugural NZ Barbarians U85 Club Cup Final after comfortable wins in their respective Semi-Finals on Saturday.
The Squids played host to the Avalon Wolves from Upper Hutt, and again showed they are a difficult team to stay with down the home straight to win 30 – 11.
It was an old-school physical battle in the rain at Colin Maiden Park, which the Wolves looked to use to their advantage by keeping the ball in close quarters against the expansive University side.
The Squids led 11-0 at the break and withstood a strong third quarter by Avalon before scoring some classy tries at the end with number eight Henry Parker the best on the park for the home team.
University assistant coach David Hutchens says their strong finishes have become a theme of the Squids’ play in recent years.
“We pride ourselves on our finish; we use our bench pretty strategically to finish strong and play our game at the end.
“I think we contained Avalon fairly well and kept the ball away from them pretty well and played some smart rugby.”
Meanwhile down in Wellington, the Eden Lizards saw off the Eastbourne Seagulls 29 – 3 to book their spot in this week’s final at Eden Park.
As was the case with the other Semi-Final, the game remained close for the first 60 minutes before Eden score 17 points in the last quarter to sew the game up.
It could have been done and dusted a lot earlier had Eden capitalised on their opportunities in the first 20, but instead, it was Eastbourne that took an initial 3-0 lead in the second quarter.
Two late tries to Matt Turner and John Toia put the Lizards up 12 – 3 at the break, but the Seagulls wouldn’t go away with a tenacious third quarter at windy Evans Bay Park.
However, Eden flicked the afterburners on following yellow cards to both sides late in the peace to put an end to Eastbourne’s finals run.
Auckland University Squids 30 v 11 Avalon Rugby
Eastbourne RFC 3 v 29 Eden Lizards
Auckland University Squids v Eden Lizards
Eden Park on Saturday 7 November - 11.35am