CRL MASSETTI CUP ROUND 12 WRAP
The race for the Canterbury Rugby League premiership finals remains wide open after a couple of key results in Round 12 of the Massetti Cup.
The resurgent Halswell Hornets upset the fourth-placed Eastern Eagles 32-26 at Wainoni Park, holding on after leading 18-10 at halftime.
Winless during the first half of the season, the Hornets have now saluted in four of their last five matches and must be wishing the regular season was a couple of weeks longer as they come home with a wet sail.
Riccarton Knights kept their playoffs chances alive with a commanding 48-16 away victory Papanui Tigers.
The Knights raced out to a 34-6 halftime advantage, before taking their foot off the gas somewhat in the second stanza. Second-rower Caleb Reweti scored three tries, while wingers Riki Bidois and James Tongia notched two apiece.
Hornby Panthers dismissed the challenge of Celebration Lions in a fiery encounter at Cuthberts Green, running out 44-14 winners.
The Panthers led 22-10 at the break and went on with the job in the second 40. Pesini Tevake made the most of his call-up to the premiers side, dotting down for three tries. Four players spent time in the sin-bin.
Linwood carved out a dominant 38-10 home win over Northern to retain top spot on the ladder.
The Bulldogs went into Round 12 on a three-match winning streak and confident of challenging the three-time defending premiers, after going down just 12-10 when the teams met at Murphy Park in May.
But the Keas scored the only three tries of the first half at Linwood Park to take a commanding 14-0 lead into the break.
Halfback Darren Tonihi and second-rower Michael Butson posted tries for Northern in the second stanza, but Linwood’s onslaught continued. Keas wingers Ben Ilalio and Rangi Thompson both finished with hat-tricks, while centre Willie Yeow bagged a double in the eight-tries-to-two rout.
Heavyweights Linwood and Hornby are guaranteed to finish in the top two spots, while a handy draw and healthy for-and-against should see Northern secure third. Eastern and Riccarton look set to battle it out for fourth over the next fortnight.
The Eagles face the Panthers in Round 13, while the Knights could join them on 12 points if they beat the Lions. Tantalisingly, the Eagles and Knights square off in the final round in what is shaping as a straight shootout for a finals berth.
MASSETTI CUP ROUND 12 RESULTS
Hornby Panthers 44 (Pesini Tavake 3, Regan Stanton 2, Brad Campbell, Tauvale Tauvale tries; Benji Heather 6 goals) defeated Celebration Lions 14 (Denis Davey, Jordan Wawatai, Jarvis Ataera tries; Jake Vincent goal) at Cuthberts Green
Linwood Keas 38 (Ben Ilalio 3, Rangi Thompson 3, Willie Yeow 2 tries; Daniel Hartley 2, Toi Sepuloni goals) defeated Northern Bulldogs 10 (Darren Tonihi, Michael Butson tries; Nathaniel Tirikatene goal) at Linwood Park
Riccarton Knights 48 (Caleb Reweti 3, James Tongia 2, Riki Bidois 2, Zion Kamana, Justin Lynch tries; Tele Elia 6 goals) d Papanui Tigers 16 (Rudi Sifa, Rudy Faanunumi, Jacab Clarke tries; Hayden Thompson 2 goals) at Papanui Domain
Halswell Hornets 32 (Levi Morunga, Brodie Floris, Anton Tavinor, Francis Go, Cheyne Turahui tries; Jahran Katene 4, Dylan Gittings 2 goals) defeated Eastern Eagles 26 (Longe Faalilo 2, Klayton Waikato, Junior Peneli, Cyrus Timo-Latu tries; Peneli 3 goals) at Wainoni Park
MASSETTI CUP STANDINGS: Linwood 22 (+186), Hornby 20 (+314), Northern 14 (+94), Eastern 12 (+12), Riccarton 10 (+6), Celebration 8 (-109), Halswell 8 (-218), Papanui 4 (-285)
Photo Credit: Dai Roberts