CRL Premiers Massetti Cup Rd 13 Wrap
Hornby Panthers survived a second-half rally from Celebration Lions at Branston Park in the penultimate round of the Massetti Cup to keep the race for the Canterbury Rugby League minor premiership alive.
The second-placed Panthers stormed out to a 24-4 halftime lead, but the Lions came home with a wet sail before the hosts eventually held on for a nervy 30-26 win.
Linwood Keas maintained their position atop the premiers table with a 28-0 shutout of a short-handed Aranui Eagles outfit at QEII Park – the defending champs’ 12th straight victory.
Hit by a string of injury withdrawals, the bottom-placed Eagles battled gamely to concede just two second-half tries, including the match-sealer to Keas centre and recent New Zealand Warriors signing Graeme Pata-Vaega’au.
Papanui Tigers sealed third spot via a 56-16 thumping of fifth-placed Northern Bulldogs at Papanui Domain.
The Tigers held a modest 22-10 advantage at halftime before unleashing a devastating performance in the second-stanza.
Riccarton Knights, celebrating the club’s 90th anniversary at Crosbie Park, were held to a 22-all draw by Halswell Hornets.
The Hornets led 14-12 at the break but the visitors’ cause was not helped by the send-off of Ben Ilalio for a high tackle midway through the second half, and the teams shared the spoils in the first stalemate of the 2017 season.
Halswell and Aranui will square off next week in a virtual playoff for the wooden spoon, while Hornby’s bid to leapfrog Linwood into top spot in the final round depends on a Panthers victory over in-form Papanui and the Keas being upset by Northern.
Massetti Cup Table: Linwood 24, Hornby 22, Papanui 18, Celebration 16, Northern 10, Riccarton 5, Halswell 5, Aranui 4.
Hornby Panthers 30 (Tauvale Tauvale 2, Charlie Charlie, James Baxendale, Willie Tafua, Ross Turi tries; Baxendale 3 goals) d. Celebration Lions 26 (Aukilani Tuuu, Teariki Tangiiti, Kyle Leka, Kasi Leka, Posetone Manu tries; Tama Walker 3 goals).
Riccarton Knights 22 (Avenai Rokosuka, Blake Thompson, Rob Nepia, Jope Tagicakibau tries; Tagicakibau 3 goals) drew with Halswell Hornets 22 (Sean Scott, Aaron Fiveash, Keiran Hughes, Jamie Nuttridge tries; Nuttridge 3 goals).
Linwood Keas 28 (Joseph Mika, Daniel Hartley, Erwin Sauni, Jiordan Fidow-Kele, Graeme Patu-Vaega’au tries; Toi Sepuloni 3, Hartley goals) d. Aranui Eagles 0.
Papanui Tigers 56 d. Northern Bulldogs 16 (Riki Koni, John Kaukura, Sam McAlister tries; Kaukura 2 goals).