Linwood Keas have claimed back-to-back Canterbury Cup premier reserves titles via a 34-14 victory over Northern Bulldogs in the second match of the Grand Final Day triple-header at Ngā Puna Wai. 

The Keas held a slender 12-10 lead at halftime but went on a run of 16 unanswered points after the break to lock up the Fred Arnesen Trophy.

The Keas needed just six minutes to land the first blow. Halfback Leon Jarden backed up a long break from centre Rangi Thompson to score under the posts.

But the Bulldogs found some momentum and responded in the 13th minute through giant prop Steven Crudis, who crashed over from close range.

The ensuing period was fought at close quarters, neither side giving an inch. Crudis missed a chance to send winger Tyrone Matthews over in the corner when his pass went to ground, while Thompson made another searing break for the Keas but was cut down by Keeghan Woolley and Matthews just short of the line.

Photo credit: @mattylouisphotography

The Bulldogs’ scrambling defence came to the fore on several occasions but the Kea broke the impasse six minutes out from halftime, burly interchange forward Alex Ioane barging over under the posts.

Northern produced a much-needed response on the stroke of halftime, however, with Kayne Smith dotting down out wide to cut the deficit to two points.

After a scrappy start to the second stanza, Linwood took an 18-10 lead when second-rower Mitchell Rossiter-Sione scored and Jarden converted from out wide.

The Keas inched out to a 12-point advantage  with 15 minutes left courtesy of two Jarden penalty goals, either side of repelling a string of spirited Bulldogs attacking raids.

Linwood wrapped up the result with a try to interchange Sammy Saufatu with 10 minutes to go.

Jarden, who had a running battle with his ex-Bulldogs teammates all afternoon, spent the last six minutes in the sin-bin. Centre John Kaukura muscled over for a consolation try for the Bulldogs, but the Keas had the last say through winger Joseph Hapi.

Kea’s back-rower Joseph Purcell-Mika was awarded the match ball as player of the match.

Photo credit: @mattylouisphotography

Linwood Keas 34 (Leon Jarden, Alex Ioane, Mitchell Rossiter-Sione, Sammy Saufatu, Joseph Hapi tries; Jarden 5, Jacob Davis, Rangi Thompson goals) defefated Northern Bulldogs 14 (Steven Crudis, Kayne Smith, John Kaukura tries; Keeghan Woolley goal) at Ngā Puna Wai

6 min: Linwood 6-0 (Jarden try, Davis goal)
13 min: 6-all (Crudis try, Woolley goal)
34 min: Linwood 12-6 (Ioane try, Jarden goal)
39 min: Linwood 12-10 (Smith try)
51 min: Linwood 18-10 (Rossiter-Sione try, Jarden goal)
54 min: Linwood 20-10 (Jarden goal)
65 min: Linwood 22-10 (Jarden goal)
70 min: Linwood 28-10 (Saufatu try, Jarden goal)
75 min: Linwood 28-14 (Kaukura try)
79 min: Linwood 34-14 (Hapi try, Thompson goal)

Photo credit: @mattylouisphotography

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