The Canterbury Bulls may have had the best start to the National Premiership winning two from three games, but a 34-14 loss to the reigning Champions Akarana in round four has bumped the Bulls out of grand final contention.
Counties Manukau will take on Akarana in a rematch of the 2016 Premiership final on 6 October following the promotion and relegation deciding game. Although Akarana are defending champions, round three’s result between the two Auckland sides (36-22) had Counties come out on top which should make for a highly contested grand final showdown.
The National Championship went down to the wire with a 26-all round three result between the Otago Whalers and Northern Swords, but it didn’t end there. Otago and Northern battled it out for a chance to challenge the fourth place National Premiership team in a promotion and relegation game that, if won by the challenger, would see them move up into the National Premiership for the 2018 season.
Not even points differential could separate the Northern and Otago sides resulting in the Northern Swords going through to the match of their lives on point percentage.
Akarana 34 Canterbury 14
Waikato 22 Counties 46
Otago 26 Northern 26
Finals fixtures next week
National Premiership Grand Final
Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
4pm, 6 October
Akarana v Counties
2pm, 6 October