Bay of Plenty Steamers have made their first final since 2000 after a comprehensive 48-32 victory over Otago in the Mitre 10 Cup Championship semi-final played at Tauranga Domain today.
The victory will see them face Wellington at Westpac Stadium next Friday night at 7.35pm.
Otago opened the scoring with a penalty to Josh Ioane, which was quickly matched by Mike Delany to tie the scores.
It was Joe Webber who showed his finishing ability to score the first try of the afternoon in the left hand corner.
Unfortunately halfback Richard Judd injured his knee and was replaced after 21 minutes by Luke Campbell, who took the field in the blazer game.
Centre Lalakai Foketi was the next Steamer to grab a try with Delany converting to extend the home side out to a 15-3 lead.
However, Otago clawed back the Steamers lead with a try to hooker and captain Sam Anderson Heather.
Ioane then kicked a penalty to close the gap to 15-11 before the Steamers finished the half with a crucial seven-pointer. Campbell made a sharp break before Chase Tiatia and Monty Ioane combined down Otago's right side to set up Foketi to crash over.
Bay of Plenty led 22-11 at the break but were set back immediately after the restart when openside flanker Hugh Blake was yellow carded.
Otago scored immediately through No 8 Sione Teu but the Steamers came storming back on attack, with Webber skilfully running down the line to finish in the corner. Delany converted with a superb kick into the cross breeze.
Otago's handling let them down once again and the Steamers took advantage, this time with Henry Stowers driving over to extend the lead to 34-18.
Otago came back after weak defence let in Vilimoni Koroi to score in the corner. Smith slotted the conversion from touch and the game hung in the balance at 34-25 with 16 minutes to play.
From the re-start the Steamers attacked and in a defining point of the match, second five eight Terrence Hepetema dived over for a try. Delany added the extras to stretch the lead to 41-25 with 11 to play.
Otago scored a late converted try but the Steamers looked assured in holding out over the final few minutes. As the siren sounded, they attacked down the left hand flank and a certain try was stopped by a deliberate knock on.
Referee Brendon Pickerill after conferring with the TMO, had no hesitation but to yellow card the Otago left winger and ended the game with a penalty try This sparked jubilant scenes among the 5,000 Tauranga Domain home supporters.
Bay of Plenty 48 (Joe Webber 2, Lalakai Foketi 2, Henry Stowers, Terrence Hepetema, penalty try tries; Mike Delany 5 cons, pen) Otago 32 (Sam Anderson-Heather, Sione Teu, Vilimoni Koroi, Teih Walden tries; Josh Ioane 2 pen; Fletcher Smith 3 con) HT: 22-11 Bay of Plenty