Linwood v Hornby: The Rivalry Continues
This Sunday’s premiers grand final at Linfield Park will see another chapter of one of Canterbury Rugby League’s greatest modern club rivalries unfold.
Linwood Keas and Hornby Panthers will go toe-to-toe in the decider for the second straight year – and the fifth time in the past 13 seasons.
The Keas powered to a 29-10 victory over the Panthers in 2016 grand final at AMI Stadium – scoring five tries in the first 25 minutes to set up the convincing win – but fluctuating results between the heavyweights this year has made the rematch too close to call.
Hornby thumped a weakened Linwood 38-12 in the opening round of 2017, but the defending champs turned the tables with a torrid 14-8 victory in Round 8. The Panthers then snared the first grand final spot with a high-quality 22-14 victory in the major semi-final at Murphy Park a fortnight ago.
Between them, Hornby and Linwood won the first four grand finals after a playoffs system was implemented to decide Canterbury Rugby League’s premier club in 1967. Hornby defeated Addington in the inaugural ’67 decider and Marist-Western Suburbs two years later, while Linwood downed Papanui in 1968 and Marist Western-Suburbs in 1970.
But it would be another 35 years before the clubs first met in a grand final.
While Hornby was a perennial contender – qualifying for 13 grand finals from 1982-2001 and winning eight – Linwood’s only appearances in the three decades after those early grand final successes were losses in 1974 and 1995.
The crosstown rivals simultaneously emerged as premiership forces in the mid-2000s, however, and the Keas put the disappointment of two grand final losses in the previous three seasons and ended a 35-year title drought with a record-shattering 66-10 rout of the Panthers in the 2005 decider.
Hornby gained some revenge with a thrilling 32-28 win over Linwood in the 2006 grand final, though, and repeated the dose with a 27-20 success against the defending premier Keas in 2009.
Only three times has a team beaten the same opponent in two straight grand finals: Papanui’s wins over Marist-Western Suburbs in 1972-73 and Eastern Suburbs in 1976-77, and Hornby’s twin victories over Halswell in 2012-13.
Hornby is also aiming to avoid the same fate that befell Linwood (2007-08) and Halswell (2012-13), the only clubs to lose back-to-back grand finals since 1990.
Meanwhile, the Keas have the opportunity to join the Panthers (1983-84, 1990-91, 1996-97, 2009-10 and 2012-13) and Hornets (1987-88 and 1999-2000) as the only teams to successfully defend their title in the past 36 seasons.
LINWOOD KEAS v HORNBY PANTHERS – LAST 10 MATCHES
2017: Major Semi-final – Hornby 22-14 Linwood @ Murphy Park
2017: Round 8 – Linwood 14-8 Hornby @ Linwood Park
2017: Round 1 – Hornby 38-12 Linwood @ Branston Park
2016: Grand final – Linwood 29-10 Hornby @ AMI Stadium
2016: Major Semi-final – Linwood 18-12 Hornby @ Wainoni Park
2016: Round 13 – Hornby 28-16 Linwood @ Leslie Park
2016: Round 6 – Linwood 30-16 Hornby @ Linwood Park
2015: Round 12 – Hornby 44-24 Linwood @ Leslie Park
2015: Round 5 – Linwood 41-10 Hornby @ Linwood Park
2014: Round 14 – Linwood 16-14 Hornby @ Linwood Park
LINWOOD KEAS v HORNBY PANTHERS – GRAND FINAL MATCHES
2016: Linwood Keas 29 (W Yeow, D Hartley, M Sauni, Toi Sepuloni, M Nicholls-Cane tries; Hartley 4 goals; Hartley field goal) defeated Hornby Panthers 10 (T Tauvale, S Karena tries; J Baxendale goal)
2009: Hornby Panthers 27 (J Manning, M Paunga, T Aua-vaa, J Baxendale, C Smith tries; Baxendale 3 goals) defeated Linwood Keas 20 (J Aranga, T Tangiiti, A Todd, K Ferris tires; Tangiiti, Todd goals)
2006: Hornby Panthers 32 (R Hanson, S Wallace, J Baxendale, C Smith, C Thomas, M Deane tries; Baxendale 4 goals) defeated Linwood Keas 28 (N Horgan, K Warbrick, C Rastrick, T Tuli, C Hatcher; Warbrick 4 goals)
2005: Linwood Keas 66 (P McDonald 3, Chris Bamford 2, M Emslie, L Boyd, N Tuli, J soli, M Coe, Kyle Leka; Boyd 11 goals) defeated Hornby Panthers 10 (O Motoi, C Smith tries; J Baxendale goal)