The race for the Canterbury Rugby League men’s premiership finals will go down to the final weekend of the regular season after Riccarton Knights and Eastern Eagles both produced clutch wins in a spectator-less Round 9 of the Massetti Cup.

The fourth-placed Knights held off a Celebration Lions fight-back to record a 28-22 win at Crosbie Park, after leading by 18 points at halftime.

A stunning four-try haul to prop Javan Ataera wasn’t enough for the Lions, with goalkicking ultimately proving the difference. The teams finished with five tries apiece, but Riccarton’s Tele Elia booted four conversions to Celebration five-eighth Taniela Leka’s one.

The fifth-placed Eagles survived their own goalkicking troubles to put away Halswell Hornets 26-18 at Halswell Domain. Eastern led 8-6 at halftime before posting four tries to one in the second stanza. Experienced half Daniel Hartley converted only one of the Eagles’ six tries while Nick Evans slotted three-from-three for the Hornets.

The Eagles are two points adrift of the Knights on the Massetti Cup table but boast a far superior for-and-against. The downside is they need a king-sized upset of Linwood Keas in the final round to have any chance of sneaking into the top four.

The Knights’ Round 10 assignment is against Hornby Panthers, who went down 42-24 to high-flying Northern Bulldogs at Murphy Park on Saturday.

The match was evenly poised at halftime with the Bulldogs in front 16-12. But the hosts piled on five tries to the Panthers’ two after the break, winger Atunaisa Takubu grabbing a hattrick, and centre Tom Mansfield and second-rower Cameron Godfrey both notching doubles.

There’s plenty at stake next week for Hornby, too: If the 2016-19 grand finalists lose to Riccarton and Eastern rolls Linwood, they could land in fifth spot on points differential.

The 8-1 Keas maintained their lead over the Bulldogs at the top of the table on for-against with a 58-0 demolition of Papanui Tigers.

The four-time defending champs opened up a 24-0 lead at the break before clicking into overdrive with seven second-half tries.



Riccarton Knights 28 (Justin Lynch 2, Reuben Te Amo, Rex Hifo, Sam Brown tries; Tele Elia 4 goals) defeated Celebration 22 (Javan Ataera 4, Maoluma Sakaria tries; Taniela Leka goal) at Crosbie Park

Northern Bulldogs 42 (Atunaisa Takubu 3, Cameron Godfrey 2, Tom Mansfield 2, Patella Tou tries; Izic Placid 5 goals) defeated Hornby Panthers 24 (Regan Stanton 2, Nathaniel Papuni, Caius Faatili tries; Faatili 4 goals) at Murphy Park

Eastern Eagles 26 (Klayton Waikato 2, Junior Muaimalae 2, Daniel Hartley 2 tries; Daniel Hartley goal) defeated Halswell Hornets 18 (Scott MacDonald, Brodie Floris, Ryan Coleman tries; Nick Evans 3 goals) at Halswell Domain

Linwood Keas 58 (Mapu Uasi 2, Rangi Thompson 2, Matthew Sauni 2, William Yeow, Alex Todd, Alani Kakoi, Danny Latu, Erwin Sauni, Tapunuu Jr Tuuga tries; Toi Sepuloni 3, Uasi 2 goals) defeated Papanui Tigers 0



Eastern Eagles 28 defeated Halswell Hornets 26 at Halswell Domain

Woolston Rams 24 defeated Ashburton Barbarians 18 at Woolston Park

Northern Bulldogs v Burnham Chevaliers @ Murphy Park – game called off at halftime due to injury (Northern led 6-4)

Linwood Keas 20 defeated Papanui Tigers 0

Share this