CANTEBURY BULLS OVERRUN BY STALLIONS IN NATIONAL DECIDER
The New Era Glazing Canterbury Bulls’ 2021 campaign ended in disappointment, going down 36-22 to Upper Central Stallions in the NZRL Sky Sports National Men’s Competition final at their Ngā Puna Wai home base.
After taking the lead 10 minutes in, the Bulls conceded 32 unanswered points before running in three late tries to add some respectability to the scoreboard.
The Stallions opened the scoring after just three minutes through centre Karly Karauna, but the home side responded with a powerful try to front-rower Uriah Tuli for a 6-4 advantage.
Upper Central hit back with two quick tries to lead 14-6 at the 20-minute mark, which is where the scoreboard remained at halftime. But second-rower Tony Matautia’s second try soon after the break opened the floodgates.
By the time Matautia crossed for his third try the scoreline was 30-6 in the Stallions’ favour with 20 minutes left, while fullback Denzil Manu’s second four-pointer – his team’s seventh – effectively sealed the result.
The youthful Bulls line-up earned some respite in the last 10 minutes, snapping a lengthy try drought through the ever-dangerous Penetito Ilalio. Riccarton Knights forward Delane Luke crashed over soon afterwards and Celebration Lions’ Zion Kamana – playing in the centres after some impressive showings in the second-row earlier in the campaign – latched onto a grubber to bag a try on the siren.
NZRL SKY SPORTS NATIONAL MEN’S COMPETITION FINAL
Upper Central Stallions 36 (Tony Matautia 3, Denzil Manu 2, Karly Karauna, Johnson Peri tries; Connor Hohepa 5 goals) New Era Glazing Canterbury Bulls 22 (Uriah Tuli, Penetitio Ilalio, Delane Luke, Zion Kamana tries; Zac Riley, Kyle Amer, Ketesemane Pouli goals) at Ngā Puna Wai