Archrivals Linwood and Hornby turned on an absorbing Round 1 contest befitting of its grand final rematch status at the newly-reopened Leslie Park on Saturday.

But the defending premiers took the gloss off the Panthers’ homecoming with a 22-10 victory, setting the tone for another season of classic battles between Canterbury’s heavyweight clubs.

The Keas led 10-0, but the Panthers scored tries either side of halftime to snatch at 12-10 advantage. The Keas crossed for the last two tries of the match – with off-season wing recruit Ben Ilalio finishing with a double – to clinch the result.

Papanui Tigers defied massive roster turnover and a halftime deficit to pull off a stirring 30-26 win over Celebration Lions at Papanui Domain.

Three converted tries lifted the Lions to an 18-10 lead by the time the teams swapped ends, but the Darrell Coad-coached Tigers came home with a wet sail courtesy of four touchdowns in the second stanza.

Papanui five-eighth Jahrome Clarke notched a double.

Supporters at Crosbie Park witnessed a try-fest between Riccarton and Halswell, with the Knights crossing nine times to the Hornets’ six in a 46-36 win. The Knights led 28-18 at halftime.

Riccarton winger Anthony Tailua scored three tries and stalwart hooker Justin Lynch dotted down twice, while veteran Halswell halfback Sean Scott racked up 16 points from a try and six goals.

It was another high-scorer out at Murphy Park as the new-look Northern Bulldogs accounted for a spirited Eastern Eagles outfit 42-30.

Big-name signing Chris Bamford made a huge impression for the Bulldogs with two tries in his first CRL club match since winning the 2016 grand final with Linwood, while Rockcote Canterbury Bulls hooker Chase Williams bagged a hat-trick.

To the Eagles’ credit they outscored the Bulldogs four tries to three in the second half after trailing 26-8 at the break.


Linwood Keas 20 (Ben Ilalio 2, Will Yeow, Chris Nijssen tries; Mark Burton, Toi Sepuloni goals) defeated Hornby Panthers 12 (Corey Lawrie, Tyrone Arona tries; James Baxendale 2 goals) at Leslie Park.

Papanui Tigers 30 (Jahrome Clarke 2, Tufaga Sa, Issaac Maliota, Cyrus Timo-Latu tries; Hayden Thompson 4, Timo-Latu goals) defeated Celebration Lions 26 (Muipu Nati, Antonio Liana, Javaan Togiaso, Jay Pouwhare, Kuki David tries; Jope Gaunavou 3 goals) at Papanui Domain.

Riccarton Knights 46 (Anthony Tailua 3, Justin Lynch 2, Blake Thompson, Tele Elia, Shane Tamatea, Matty Pitman tries; Elia 5 goals) defeated Halswell Hornets 36 (Jahran Katene, Dylan Gittings, Nick Evans, Sean Scott, Jaye Pukepuke, Willie Davis tries; Scott 6 goals) at Crosbie Park.

Northern Bulldogs 42 (Chase Williams 3, Chris Bamford 2, Izic Placid, Tom Mansfield, Nick Wain tries; Placid 2, Jarden 2, Williams goals) defeated Eastern Eagles 30 (Sam Robinson, Tama Walker, Daniel Williams-Morris, Pita Kamariera, Sai Saukuru, Lou Ah Tong tries; Klayton Waikato 3 goals) at Murphy Park.

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