CRL Masetti Cup Round 1 Wrap
Here’s how the opening round of premiers matches unfolded around the rugby league fields of Christchurch on Saturday.
HORNBY PANTHERS 38 d. LINWOOD KEAS 12 @ Branston Park
Hornby Panthers extracted a modicum of revenge with a resounding 38-12 over Linwood Keas in Saturday’s rematch between the 2016 grand final combatants.
The Panthers led 10-8 after a hard-fought first half, with Christian Erick and James Baxendale scoring for last year’s runners-up and Leon Jarden and Danny Latu crossing for the Keas.
But it was all one-way traffic in the second stanza. The defending premiers’ cause was not helped by the loss of Chris Nijssen and Shane Bowden to injury, leaving the Keas with a two-man bench.
Craig Smith scored the first two tries of the second half, before Gene Spooner, Christopher Tautau and Tauvale Tauvale added their names to the scoresheet to seal an emphatic victory for the Panthers.
The Keas’ sole consolation of the second 40 was a try to replacement hooker Casey Rastrick. Baxendale finished with a personal tally of 14 points from a try and five goals.
Panthers recruits Ross Turi and Will Tafua had strong games for their new club, offsetting the loss of Paradise Mann and David Tongo Tongo.
Meanwhile, Hornby coach and Rockcote Canterbury Bulls assistant Jed Lawrie got one over his Bulls head coach Andrew Auimatagi, Linwood’s premiership-winning mentor, to kick off 2017 and ensured an intense rivalry for the rest of the season.
It was also a grand final rematch in the premier reserves clash, but defending champs Linwood repeated their triumph over Hornby in the 2016 decider with a 54-8 rout in yesterday’s curtain-raiser.
HALSWELL HORNETS 32 d. NORTHERN BULLDOGS @ Halswell Domain
Halswell Hornets outlasted a spirited Northern Bulldogs outfit in a high-scoring clash at Halswell Domain.
Rob Faalilo’s Hornets, wooden spooners in 2016, built an 18-12 halftime lead on the back of a double to Phil Maireroa.
Jake Skilling bagged a try in each half for the home side, while Ben Ilalio and new recruit Jason Galland crossed in the second stanza as both teams posted 14 points after the break.
Jamie Nuttridge booted four goals for the Hornets.
PAPANUI TIGERS 46 d. CELEBRATION LIONS 22 @ Canterbury Park
Despite a heavily disrupted build-up to the 2017 season with their home ground undergoing maintenance, along with fielding a new-look line-up, Papanui Tigers were comfortable winners over Celebration Lions at Canterbury Park.
Shane Endacott’s side ran in nine tries, with Josh Ka, Darren Tonihi and Tanu Suavine all notching doubles.
Veteran JJ Smith and clever half Jules Webley also found their way over for four-pointers, while Izic Placid slotted six conversions as the Tigers posted the highest score of Round 1.
ARANUI EAGLES 22 d. RICCARTON KNIGHTS 12 @ QE 2 PARK
Aranui Eagles made an ideal start to their bid for a finals return, upsetting perennial top-four side Riccarton Knights at QE 2 Park in the lowest-scoring match of the opening round.
The Eagles held a narrow 8-6 advantage at halftime, but scored two tries to one in the second half to grab an impressive 10-point victory.
Uriah Esau, Michael Ropiha, TJ Jackson and Zion Tauamiti scored tries for the Eagles, while Tom Dwyer and Caleb Reweti crossed for the Knights.