In the Premiership defending champions Waikato host Auckland while Canterbury, winners of all six regular season matches in 2022, host Wellington.
In the Championship division, Otago hosts North Harbour while Hawke’s Bay will look to repeat their earlier season success over Northland.
Wellington blew a 25-12 lead, but with two bonus points still made the semifinals. When replacement Ivana Samani scored in the 53rd minute, the visitors appeared on track for a rare victory against the Storm.
However, in the 76th minute Auckland nabbed the winner courtesy of replacement prop Cilia-Marie Po’e, not long out of McAuley High School.
Wellington had a number of strong performers, with Bernadette Robinson, Teilah Ferguson and Monica Tagoai potent in the back and Angel Mulu and Raylene Lolo busy and bustling up front.
Auckland can thank their bench for significant impact. Jade Bowen and Sapphire Abraham particularly added zest. Loose forward Liana Mikaele-Tu’u is demanding a Black Ferns recall after injury. She was fierce and active.
Auckland 26 (Patricia Maliepo, Katelyn Vaha'akolo, Mele Hufanga, Cilia-Marie Po’e tries; Sophie Fisher 3 con) Wellington 25 (Thamsyn Newton, Jackie Patea-Fereti, Bernadette Robertson, Ivana Samani tries; Newton con, pen) HT: 7-8.
Once again the Waikato pack produced the goods to secure a home semifinal, with victory over Counties Manukau in Pukekohe.
Waikato loosehead, and Black Ferns 2017 World Cup hero, Toka Natau celebrated her 35th blazer game with a powerful display. Lock Lonita Ngalu-Lavemai was effective and No8 Victoria Makea, the most capped player in Waikato history, was impressive. First five Calista Ruruku and second-five Rina Paraone combined well.
For Counties, No8 Ti Tauasosi never stops trying and first five Mererangi Paul had some quality moments, rewarded with a brace of tries.
Waikato 32 (Merania Paraone, Rina Paraone, Esther Tilo-Faioga, Lonita Ngalu-Lavemai tries; Calista Ruruku 3 con, 2 pen) Counties Manukau 12 (Mererangi Paul 2 tries, con) HT: 17-7.
North Harbour produced their best effort of the year to end Tasman’s vastly improved season. The North Harbour scrum was brutal and they were more clinical when it counted.
The winning try was scored by reserve Chantelle Schofield close to full time after two props had combined with some nimble handling.
Both first fives Cassia Siataga (Tasman) and Hayley Hutana (North Harbour) produced eye-catching displays. The North Harbour loose forward trio of Barbra Auva’a, Danielle Mellow and Tenaija Fletcher worked well together.
North Harbour 31 (Jade Wong, Hayley Hutana, Chantelle Schofield tries; Hutana 2 con, 4 pen) Tasman 20 (Becky Davidson, Brooklyn Logan tries; Cassia Siataga 2 con, 2 pen) HT: 15-7.
Bay of Plenty missed the Premiership semifinals by a whisker, narrowly losing to Canterbury.
Kalyn Takitimu-Cook did have the chance to draw the game, when attempting to convert Renee Wickliffe’s last-gasp try in the right corner, however her effort just slipped under the crossbar.
Both sides looked menacing in open play, hurting each other from turnover ball. Canterbury was imperious at scrum time, a familiar asset this season.
Wing Martha Mataele has scored at least one try in every game this season for Canterbury, Greer Muir followed up her strong performance against Manawatū and Rosie Kelly was again on song.
Teenager Payton Takimoana is a versatile outside back from an age-group basketball background with obvious quality. Blindside Pia Tapsell has had a good season returning from a long-term injury.
Canterbury 33 (Isabella Waterman 2, Martha Mataele, Greer Muir, Rosie Kelly tries; Rosie Kelly 4 con) Bay of Plenty 31 (Payton Takimoana 2, Kalyn Takitimu-Cook, Pia Tapsell, Renee Wickliffe tries; Kalyn Takitimu-Cook 3 con). HT: 26-12.
Northland earned a place in the Championship semifinals by denying a defiant Taranaki. In a tense and error-ridden first half it was Northland who gained the only profit with a try to active left-wing Tyler Nankivell.
Former Black Fern Charmaine Smith was strong at lock for Northland and her 54th minute try which put the Kauri 17-5 ahead appeared to be decisive. However, speedy Taranaki halfback Lucy Blyde responded sharply to reduce the deficit.
A yellow card conceded by Taranaki No8 Brooke Neilson was a major blow, the Whio conceding twice while she was in the sin bin.
Taranaki only won a solitary game this season, but they have shown signs of significant improvement from recent years.
Northland 31 (Tyler Nankivell, Leilani Erwin, Charmaine Smith, Clare Guest, Tui McGeorge tries; Nanivell 3 cons) Taranaki 19 (Danielle Muggeridge, Lucy Blyde, Badin-Lee Munro-Smith tries; Muggeridge con, Brooke Sim con). HT: 7-0.
Farah Palmer Cup semifinals:
Saturday 3rd September
Hawkes Bay (2) vs. Northland (3)
McLean Park, 12:05pm
Sunday 4th September
Otago (1) vs. North Harbour (5)
Forsyth Barr Stadium, 4.35pm
Sunday 4th September
Canterbury (1) vs. Wellington (4)
Sunday 4th September
Waikato (2) vs. Auckland (3)
FMG Stadium, Waikato 1.35pm