Linwood Keas’ bid to go through the Massetti Cup regular season undefeated received another major boost courtesy of hard-fought 23-16 win over archrivals Hornby Panthers in Saturday’s Round 8 catch-up.

The Keas held a slender 8-6 lead at halftime at Linwood Park but had the better of the second stanza, with Thoren Fidow-Kele bagging a double and playmaker Daniel Hartley icing the result with a field goal.

The loss was the Panthers’ first away from home this season and saw them slip to third on the ladder.

Linwood are now 11-0 but face another tough assignment in Round 12 against the in-form Northern Bulldogs, who moved into outright second with a 22-17 defeat of Aranui Eagles at Wainoni Park.

The Bulldogs led 12-4 at the break and held on for their sixth win on the trot. Halfback Te Wano Thomas scored two tries, while front-rower Chris Bamford’s phenomenal tryscoring form continued with another four-pointer – his 11th in as many games.

Fourth-placed Halswell Hornets put one hand on a spot in the playoffs by overwhelming Riccarton Knights 32-18.

The Halswell Domain clash was effectively over by halftime as the hosts raced to a 26-0 lead. To their credit, the bottom-placed Knights rallied after the resumption to outscore the Hornets three tries to one. Veteran forwards Jaye Pukepuke and Jason Galland were among Halswell’s six try-scorers while Caleb Rewiti dotted down twice off the bench for Riccarton.

Celebration Lions kept their slim finals hopes alive with a 54-30 win at the expense of Papanui Tigers, which saw the Lions leapfrog the Tigers and Eagles into fifth spot.

Celebration had built a healthy 28-12 lead by halftime at Cuthberts Green and the teams put on an attacking exhibition after the break, piling on another 44 points. Rawiri Maniapoto-Pakai finished with a hat-trick for the Lions, while teammate Muipu Nati notched two of the home side’s 10 tries.

The Lions are four points adrift of the Hornets, meaning they would need to win all three of their remaining games (against the Panthers, Knights and Bulldogs) and hope the Hornets lose all three of theirs (against the Eagles, Panthers and Keas) to scrape into the final four.

Photo Credit: Dai Roberts

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