CANTERBURY RUGBY LEAGUE ROUND 13 WRAP
Hornby Panthers reclaimed top spot on the Massetti Cup ladder, Halswell Hornets fired a warning shot ahead of the finals, Northern Bulldogs put themselves in the top-four box-seat with a clutch win, and Riccarton Knights’ Sean Spooner celebrated his 300th premier grade match in style in an action-packed penultimate round of the Bartercard NZ CRL Men’s Premiership.
After suffering its first loss of 2021 to Linwood a week earlier, Hornby bounced back in Round 13 with a 38-26 defeat of a desperate Eastern Eagles outfit. The Panthers led 16-0 at halftime and always looked assured of the result despite a spirited fight-back from the Eagles after the break.
The Panthers returned to the top of the table courtesy of leapfrogging the Keas, who went down 24-16 to premiership dark horses Halswell Hornets.
The third-placed Hornets trailed by four points at the halftime but scored three tries to one in the second half to snare a confidence-boosting result ahead of the playoffs. The Hornets drew with the heavyweight Panthers and Keas during the first round and take on the competition leaders next Saturday.
Northern Bulldogs prevailed 32-18 over Celebration Lions at Murphy Park, converting an eight-point halftime advantage into what may prove a season-defining victory for the Frank Endacott-coached side.
Fourth-placed Celebration and fifth-placed Northern are now level on 12 competition points, with the Lions comfortably ahead on for-and-against. But the Lions take on defending champs the Keas in the final round, while the Bulldogs face bottom-placed, winless Papanui Tigers.
Eastern can finish the regular season in a share of fourth spot if they beat out-of-contention Riccarton Knights next weekend and the Lions and Bulldogs both lose, but a massive for-and-against deficit effectively counts the Eagles out of the finals equation.
CRL stalwart Sean Spooner scored a try in his 300th premiers match as the Knights accounted for the Tigers 46-18 at Crosbie Park. The halfback – who debuted for the Tigers in 2002 and won five Grand Finals with the Panthers before linking with the Knights last season – was joined on the scoresheet by his brother, second-rower Gene, while fellow Riccarton veteran Justin Lynch bagged a hat-trick from five-eighth.
BARTERCARD NZ CRL MEN’S PREMIERSHIP RD 13
Hornby Panthers 38 (Eti Collins 2, Charlie Charlie, Sincere Harraway, Corey Lawrie, Taula Teaupa, Taualai Taualai tries; Caleb Murphy 5 goals) defeated Eastern Eagles 26 (Zion Tauamiti 2, Diploma Muaimalae 2, Peneli Peneli tries; Henare Nukunuku 2, Daniel Hartley goals) at Leslie Park
Northern Bulldogs 32 defeated Celebration Lions 18 at Murphy Park
Riccarton Knights 46 (Justin Lynch 3, Connor Hibbs, Sean Spooner, Kolio Vailu’u, Gene Spooner, Henry Ah Kuoi tries; Matariki Halbert-Pere 7 goals) defeated Papanui Tigers 12 (John Tafua, Roger Tafua tries; Kasiano Peteia goal) at Crosbie Park
Halswell Hornets 24 (Nick Evans, Jack Campbell, Allen Morrison, Josh Everett tries; Jamie Nuttridge 4 goals) defeated Linwood Keas 16 (Joseph Hapi, George Faaiva, Fragilicius Sua tries; Michael Nicholls-Cane 2 goals) at Halswell Domain
ISC SPORT CRL CANTERBURY CUP
Marist-Papanui 40 defeated Hornby Panthers 6 at Leslie Park
Northern Bulldogs 42 defeated Shirley Hawks 16 at Murphy Park
Halswell Hornets 58 defeated Linwood Keas 14 at Halswell Domain
Burnham Chevaliers 22 defeated Eastern Eagles 4 at Coronation Park
Ashburton Barbarians 20-0 Woolston Rams