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Tasman to host Canterbury in Nelson semifinal

Nelson is the place to be on Friday night. 

In a rematch of the 2016 and 2017 Mitre 10 Cup finals, Tasman will play reigning champions Canterbury in the first of two premiership semifinals. 

Auckland, fresh from tonking Southland 56-8 on Wednesday, locked down the top seed by beating North Harbour 45-29 on Sunday, and will host Wellington in the other qualifier, on Saturday afternoon. 

Canterbury, winners of nine of the past 10 NPC titles, beat the Mako in Christchurch to seal their two most recent titles, although Tasman edged them 25-17 in Blenheim in the opening round of this year's competition.   

The red and blacks were unconvincing 19-14 winners against Counties Manukau in Pukekohe on Saturday night, their first of eight wins without a bonus point, and will need to be vastly better if they're to win what will be their first road semifinal since 2014. 

A year after barely staving off relegation, Auckland continued their turnaround under first-year coach Alama Ieremia by winning the Battle of the Bridge at Eden Park.

It was their ninth win from 10 fixtures, and means Auckland will host the final if they knock over Wellington, who booted Taranaki into the championship section next year, courtesy of a 34-10 demolition job in New Plymouth last Friday night.