CRL Massetti Cup Round 3 Wrap
Via The Press/Tony Smith
The return of two Canterbury Bulls front rowers gave the Linwood Keas a timely boost as the Canterbury rugby league champions bounced back from a heavy first round defeat to beat the Papanui Tigers.
Linwood lost to early pacesetters Hornby 38-12 on opening day but the subsequent two-week break gave coach Andrew Auimatagi time to get his full squad fit.
The 2016 premiers welcomed back five players, including Bulls props Alex Todd and Jiordan Fidow-Kele, for the 13-0 win over the Tigers at Linwood Park on Saturday.
“The boys put in a really great defensive effort,” Auimatagi said.
“I was really proud of the defence and the way they responded to that first round loss.”
Having a two-week break between games – for a rainout and Easter – was not ideal, but Auimatagi said “it gave a few guys an opportunity to get their bodies right” and meant “everyone was itching to play”.
Auimatagi said the pack got “a big boost from having Alex and Jiordan back” while co-captains Agaese Fiso and Paul Sauni also put in big shifts in the back row.
Fiso grabbed the Keas’ two tries and Daniel Hartley kicked two goals and potted a field goal for extra insurance.
Auimatagi said second rower Chris Nijssen, in his first full premiership season, also had a strong game.
Papanui, who had a big win in the first round, could not breach the Keas’ try-line.
“They’re a pretty dangerous team and have got some real talent across the board, so to come away with scoreline is definitely pleasing,” Auimatagi said.
The Keas coach, who also guides the Canterbury Bulls representative team, said Hornby were setting the standards in the early stages of the season, but the chasing teams were “not far away”.
“I think it’s going to be a fairly even competition this year.
“The early signs are looking that any of the teams can get the two points on the day.
“It will all come down to us looking after our players and trying to keep everyone healthy.”
The Hornby Panthers were again impressive winners, beating the Aranui Eagles 44-20 with veterans Craig Smith and Ross Turi both bagging two tries.
Hornby are the only team with maximum points after the first two rounds, but only the rebuilding Riccarton Knights are yet to post a win.
The other two encounters were closer affairs – backing up Auimatagi’s assertion about a more competitive championship this season.
Captain Patella Tou scored two tries as he led the Northern Bulldogs to their first win of the term, 32-28 over the Riccarton Knights, who recalled stalwart Shane Tamatea, who celebrated with a try.
A much improved Celebration Lions beat the Halswell Hornets 26-20 after tries to Posetone Manu, Kyle Leka, Jonathan Lima and Junior Salevao.
AT A GLANCE
Canterbury rugby league week two results
Northern Bulldogs 32 ( Patella Tou 2, Te Wano Thomas, Cameron Godfrey, Chase Williams, Kharn Schroeder tries; Te Wano Thomas 4 goals) beat Riccarton Knights 28 (Shane Tamatea, Rob Nepia, Tainui Tangiora, James Tongia, Justin Lynch tries; Jope Tagicakibau 4 goals).
Hornby Panthers 44 (Craig Smith 2, Tyrone Arona, James Baxendale, Ross Turi 2, Karika Tuake, Christopher Tuatau tries; James Baxendale 6 goals) beat Aranui Eagles 20 (Uriah Esau 2, Vinnie Paul, Apineru Siaki tries; Mark Giddens 2 goals).
Linwood Keas 13 ( Agaese Fiso 2 tries; Daniel Hartley 2 goals, Hartley drop goal) beat Papanui Tigers 0.
Halswell Hornets 20 ( Jacob Skilling, Ben Ilalio, Texas Toleafoa tries, Jamie Nuttridge 4 goals) lost Celebration Lions 26 ( Posetone Manu, Kyle Leka, Jonathan Lima, Junior Salevao tries, Taniela Leka 5 goals).
Points (after 2 rounds): Hornby 4, Linwood 2, Papanui 2, Halswell 2, Celebration 2, Northern 2, Aranui 2, Riccarton 0.