CRL PRELIMINARY FINALS WRAP
Hornby Panthers set up a fourth straight CRL men’s premiership grand final showdown with Linwood Keas courtesy of a 34-20 preliminary final victory over Northern Bulldogs.
The Panthers laid the foundation for the win with a dominant first-half display, running in five tries to the Bulldogs’ two to lead 26-10 at Leslie Park.
Returning five-eighth linchpin Tevin Arona and industrious skipper James Baxendale were among the try-scorers in the opening 40 minutes, while young centre Regan Stanton’s sole four-pointer after the break and two goals from Baxendale clinched the result.
The Bulldogs showed plenty of character to outscore the Panthers in the second stanza. Winger Manu Tipelu and centre Vinnie Paul dotted down as the visitors strived to keep their season alive, but the Panthers had already inflicted too much damage in the first half.
Hornby will aiming to parlay the momentum from the impressive win into a drought-breaking grand final triumph, having lost to Linwood in the past three Massetti Cup deciders.
Celebration Lions will get the opportunity to defend their Gore Cup title after accounting for Halswell Hornets 32-22.
The Lions raced to a 16-6 halftime lead at Halswell Domain, before both teams posted three tries in an entertaining second stanza.
The Lions, who finished the Massetti Cup regular season in seventh, will take on fifth-placed Riccarton Knights in the Gore Cup final.
Northern Bulldogs endured double heartbreak on preliminary final weekend, with their defending champion Canterbury Cup side going down 18-10 to Shirley Hawks at MacFarlane Park.
The Hawks led 6-0 at halftime thanks to a try from lock Shannon Sweeney. The Bulldogs twice pegged the deficit back to just two points in a gripping second half via tries to winger Keeghan Woolley and halfback Josh Endacott.
The Hawks found a match-sealing try, however, to avenge last season’s grand final loss to the Bulldogs and set up a date with the Keas in Sunday’s decider.
Operational requirements at Burnham Military Camp helped end the Chevaliers’ Division One reign, with the under-strength defending champs swamped 56-6 by Woolston Rams in the preliminary final.
The Rams, who lost to the Chevaliers in last year’s grand final, advanced to their second straight decider – a showdown with in-form Marist Saints.
Linwood Keas will defend their CRL Women’s Premiership crown on grand final day against Burnham Chevaliers after carving out a convincing 38-10 win over Hornby Panthers.
The Keas bounced back strongly from their 38-26 major semi loss to the Chevaliers, overwhelming the Panthers in the preliminary final at Ngā Puna Wai.
PRELIMINARY FINAL WEEKEND RESULTS
CRL MASSETTI CUP
Hornby Panthers 34 (James Baxendale, Tauvale Tauvale, Tevin Arona, Jordan Coleman, Phil Vaifale, Regan Stanton tries; Baxendale 5 goals) defeated Northern Bulldogs 20 (Steven Maat, Viliame Koroi, Manu Tipelu, Vinnie Paul tries; Nathaniel Tirikatene 2 goals) at Leslie Park
Celebration Lions 32 (Rawiri Maniapoto-Pakai, Kasi Leka, Jope Gaunavou, Jake Vincent, Javan Ataera, Jordan Kamana tries; Jordan Wawatai 4 goals) defeated Halswell Hornets 22 (Brad Austin 2, Nathan Chai, Andrew McKenzie tries; Dylan Gittings 3 goals) at Halswell Domain
Shirley Hawks 18 (Shannon Sweeney, Te Omeka Moehurori, Hone Rask tries; Arana Sutton 3 goals) defeated Northern Bulldogs 10 (Keeghan Woolley, Josh Endacott tries; Woolley goal) at MacFarlane Park
Woolston Rams 56 defeated Burnham Chevaliers 6 at Coronation Park
CRL WOMEN’S PREMIERSHIP
Linwood Keas 38 defeated Hornby Panthers 10 at Ngā Puna Wai
CRL GRAND FINAL DAY SCHEDULE
Sunday, August 25 @ Ngā Puna Wai Sports Hub
11am – Division One grand final: Marist Saints v Woolston Rams @ NPW 2
12.30pm – Women’s Premiership grand final: Burnham Chevaliers v Linwood Keas @ NPW 1
1pm – Canterbury Cup grand final: Linwood Keas v Shirley Hawks @ NPW 2
3pm – Massetti Cup grand final: Linwood Keas v Hornby Panthers @ NPW 1