CRL PRELIMINARY FINALS WRAP
The 2021 Canterbury Rugby League Grand Finalists have been decided after a gripping preliminary final weekend.
Hornby Panthers will face Linwood Keas in the Bartercard NZ CRL Men’s Premiership decider for the fifth time in six seasons, outlasting Halswell Hornets 22-14 at Leslie Park.
Bouncing back from their semi-final defeat to the Keas, the table-topping Panthers led 10-8 at halftime – but the gallant Hornets held a share of the lead with 17 minutes to go. James Baxendale edged the home side back in front with a penalty goal before Champ Betham’s second try – backing up to score after he made a barnstorming break on halfway – gave the Panthers a decisive eight-point lead in the 72nd minute.
Baxendale and Benji Heather also bagged tries for Hornby, while Halswell winger Jope Finau notched a double.
Eastern Eagles booked a Gore Cup final rematch with Celebration Lions, courtesy of a 62-0 demolition of Riccarton Knights at Wainoni Park. Junior Muimalae, Josh Afamasaga and Harold Kolosa all finished with doubles in the 13-try rout.
Northern Bulldogs moved into their second straight ISC Sport Canterbury Cup Grand Final, eliminating the Hornets 34-6 on the back of a dominant second-half display. The Bulldogs held a slender 8-6 lead at the break but it was one-way traffic at Murphy Park in the second stanza.
The Bulldogs – who went down to the Keas in last year’s premier reserves Grand Final – square off against Marist Saints-Papanui in Sunday’s 2021 Canterbury Cup decider.
Sydenham Swans and Woolston Rams will contest the CRL Women’s Grand Final for the second year in row after the Rams proved too strong for 2019 champs Linwood Keas, 28-10.
BARTERCARD NZ CRL MEN’S PREMIERSHIP PRELIMINARY FINAL
Hornby Panthers 22 (Champ Betham 2, Benji Heather, James Baxendale tries; Baxendale 3 goals) defeated Halswell Hornets 14 (Jope Finau 2, Tom Campbell tries; Jamie Nuttridge goal) at Leslie Park
GORE CUP PRELIMINARY FINAL
Eastern Eagles 62 defeated Riccarton Knights 0 at Wainoni Park
ISC SPORT CRL CANTERBURY CUP PRELIMINARY FINAL
Northern Bulldogs 34 defeated Halswell Hornets 6 at Murphy Park
CRL WOMEN’S PREMIERSHIP PRELIMINARY FINAL
Woolston Rams 28 defeated Linwood Keas 10 at Wainoni Park