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Luisetti Seeds Div 1 - FINAL
Lincoln and Methven will meet in the Luisetti Seeds Combined Country Cup final after contrasting semi final victories on Saturday.
The unbeaten Mid Canterbury side faced a tough test against Darfield, before booking a second consecutive final appearance with a 19-16 win.
Lincoln avenged a round robin loss against Oxford at their home fortress, by returning the favour with a 21-5 win at Oxford.
The former combined cup winners and two-times beaten finalists have not been at their best for much of the season, but their playoff experience has shone through in the past two weeks.
Lincoln’s forwards, as they were against Kaiapoi the previous week, were in dominant form.
Both teams lost their first five-eighths to injury early in the match, but Sean Thompson’s departure appeared to nullify Oxford’s backline weapons.
A break by prop Joe Moody’s led to Dane Petheram’s opening try in the 20th minute, and Dale Eathorne extended the lead to 11 points at the break with two penalty goals.
A double strike early in the second half by Lincoln’s replacement halfback Steve Golding proved too great a hurdle for Oxford to climb.
Winger Shark Prescott scored a late consolation try for the home side.
The scoreline could have been greater had Lincoln not missed seven shots at goal.
Lincolncoach Graham Hutchison says the return of injured players has coincided with the return to form.
“Everyone’s really stepping up to the mark. The senior players are leading the way and the younger players are following,” he says.
The 3-all draw with Celtic just before the finals was Lincoln’s “wake-up call”, Graham says.
Losing to Oxford in the round robin was also a learning curve.
“Hopefully, we’re peaking at the right part of the season,” he says.
“We’ve always treated the round robin as the avenue to get into the finals and we’ve never really worried about what level we’re at because you have to beat all those sides to win it.”
Methven, coached by former Canterbury hooker Sean Cuttance, will be unknown quantity for Lincoln, as the teams were in opposing sections this season.
“All we know is they’ve got a solid forward and a very good backline from what we here,” Graham says.
“Like any match, we’ve got to worry about our own game, not theirs. It’s just a matter of fronting up on the day.”
The final will be played at 2.45pm at Lincoln on Saturday.
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