Spirited Phoenix live up to their name

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1919

They adopted the name to honour a young fan who was taken too soon, but for Victory’s rugby league team they really have risen like a phoenix.

Cellar-dwellers for several seasons, the Phoenix stormed past three-time defending champions, the Richmond Rabbits, on Saturday to claim a spot in this weekend’s Tasman Rugby League final at Trafalgar Park.

There they’ll face another team on the rise.

Tahunanui Tigers have had a good season but were clear underdogs heading into Saturday’s semi-final against the Wanderers Wolves, a team that won the minor premiership this season.

But Tahuna got past Wanderers 30-26 thanks to a hat trick of tries to James Vailanu in Brightwater. While Victory’s 32-24 win in Stoke was built on a solid second half, out-muscling the Rabbits.

That means at around 4pm this Saturday a new champion will be crowned, as nether of the finalists has won the competition before.

Kick off for the grand final is at 2pm.