CRL PRELIMINARY FINAL WEEKEND PREVIEW
Canterbury Rugby League is gearing up for five epic senior preliminary final showdowns this weekend! Who will grab the second spot in each grade’s decider?
CRL Massetti Cup: Hornby Panthers v Northern Bulldogs – 2.45pm, Saturday, August 17 @ Leslie Park
Hornby and Northern meet in the prelminary final for the second straight season – but this time it’s the Panthers with home-ground advantage.
The Panthers were edged 12-10 by Linwood Keas in a classic mudbath struggle last Saturday, while the Bulldogs recovered from a halftime deficit to overwhelm Eastern Eagles in the sudden-death minor semi.
Hornby accounted for Northern 26-10 when the teams met at Leslie Park in Round 1 this season, but it was a close-fought affair at Kaiapoi in Round 8 with the Panthers getting up 28-20.
The Panthers are gunning for their fourth straight grand final showdown with the Keas in pursuit of the club’s first premiership since 2013, while the Bulldogs have not appeared in a decider since winning their only title in 2007.
The Panthers have made two key changes, with Tevin Arona and Damien Papuni coming in for Leo Toomalatai and Jesse Rogers.
CRL Gore Cup: Halswell Hornets v Celebration Lions – 1pm, Saturday, August 17 @ Halswell Domain
Halswell and Celebration square off for the chance to take on Riccarton in next weekend’s Gore Cup final.
The sixth-placed Hornets went down 42-14 to the Knights last weekend, while the seventh-placed Lions – last year’s Gore Cup winners – put away Papanui Tigers 38-18.
Both clubs picked up a home win over the other during the Massetti Cup regular season: the Lions prevailed 40-24 at Cuthberts Green in Round 4, but the resurgent Hornets squeaked in 28-26 at Halswell Domain in Round 11.
CRL Canterbury Cup: Shirley Hawks v Northern Bulldogs – 1pm, Saturday, August 17 @ MacFarlane Park
It’s a rematch of the 2018 Canterbury Cup grand final as Shirley Hawks and Northern Bulldogs compete for the right to take on Linwood Keas in next Sunday’s grand final at Nga Puna Wai. The Bulldogs won a long-awaited title 22-16 at the Hawks’ expense in last year’s Canterbury Park-hosted decider.
The second-placed Hawks lost a golden point thriller 14-10 to the Keas last weekend. The third-placed Bulldogs were down at halftime against Hornby Panthers but came back to win another nail-biter 10-8 at Murphy Park.
The Bulldogs chalked up an early-season win at McFarlane Park (35-18), but the Hawks prevailed at Murphy Park last month (20-12) to end a nine-match Bulldogs winning streak. This one looks like going down to the wire.
CRL Division One: Burnham Chevaliers v Woolston Rams – 1pm, Saturday, August 17 @ Coronation Park
In another 2018 grand final rematch, Burnham Chevaliers and Woolston Rams lock horns in the Division One preliminary final as top-of-the-table Marist Saints lie in wait.
The Saints subdued the defending champion Chevaliers 26-4 to advance to the decider, while the Rams won a sudden-death semi on the road against Ashburton Barbarians 30-10.
The clubs drew 24-all at Bromley Park in Round 4. The Chevaliers romped to a 40-14 home win in Round 9 but were forced to default to the Rams in Round 14 with operational requirements at Burnham Miliatry Camp taking their usual toll.
Woolston will be aiming to avenge its 26-16 loss to Burnham in last year’s decider.
CRL Women’s Premiership: Linwood Keas v Hornby Panthers – 2.30pm, Sunday, August 18 @ Nga Puna Wai
Linwood Keas need to overcome Hornby Panthers in Sunday’s CRL Women’s Premiership preliminary final before they can defend their title in the grand final against Burnham Chevaliers.
The Keas went down 38-26 to the Chevaliers in an encouraging major semi performance. The Panthers powered to a 38-14 victory over Eastern Eagles in the minor semi, but suffered a couple of season-ending injuries.
Linwood won all three regular-season clashes with Hornby this year – 48-16, 78-16 and 36-18. It’s a big mountain for the Panthers to climb, but they have nothing to lose and all the pressure is on the Keas.