CRL 2022 – ROUND 14 WRAP
Hornby Panthers will get the opportunity to defend their title in the 2022 Bartercard CRL Men’s Premiership finals series after leapfrogging Northern Bulldogs into fourth spot in the last round of the Massetti Cup.
In a thrilling finish to the regular season, the Bulldogs had the chance to control their own destiny but left the door wide open for the Panthers courtesy of a 38-6 home loss to undefeated ladder leaders Linwood Keas.
A Paul Sauni double inside 20 minutes saw the Keas take a 12-0 lead into halftime at Murphy Park, while centre Mika Moemalo Ulu bagged a hat-trick in the space of 10 minutes during the second half. The scoreline could have been worse for the Bulldogs: the Keas’ first eight tries went unconverted, before Fabricius Sua snapped the goal drought in the dying stages.
That result left Hornby with an equation of needing to beat Papanui by at least 30 points to squeeze into the playoffs on for-and-against. The champs did it easily, overwhelming the Tigers 104-6 at Papanui Domain.
The Panthers led only 24-6 at halftime before piling on an extraordinary 14 tries after the break. Centre Christian Fetu finished with four tries, fullback Muipu Nati nabbed a second-half hat-trick and halfback Caleb Murphy racked up 38 points from two tries and 15 goals.
Hornby’s last-gasp surge pitches the club into a sudden-death semi against third-placed Eastern Eagles, who will be buoyed by an impressive 22-8 defeat of second-placed Halswell Hornets in their last regular-season hit-out.
A hard-fought first half ended 4-all after Eagles spark plug Sincere Harraway’s try cancelled out Hamish Jarden’s opener for the Hornets. After no further additions to the scoreboard at the hour mark, the visitors ran in three unanswered, converted tries to seal a confidence-boosting win.
The Hornets will square off with the Keas in the top-two clash for the first grand final spot.
Riccarton Knights landed just two points outside the finals picture in sixth, capping a promising Massetti Cup campaign with a 38-18 win over Celebration Lions at Crosbie Park. Winger Mavaega Sheck crossed for three tries and halfback Hano Crichton picked up a double as the Knights powered to a 32-6 lead after 51 minutes.
Greymouth Greyhounds jumped Hornby Panthers into second spot on the Canterbury Cup ladder with a momentous 20-16 victory when the sides met in the final round of premier reserves action, overturning a six-point halftime deficit.
Meanwhile, Eastern Eagles came from 14 points down to edge Halswell Hornets 22-18 in a virtual playoff for fourth spot ahead of the Canterbury Cup finals.
Linwood Keas completed an unbeaten 5-0 run since the competition split off into the top six and bottom three, defeating Woolston Rams 36-32.
BARTERCARD CRL MEN’S PREMIERSHIP ROUND 14
Riccarton Knights 38 (Mavaega Sheck 3, Hano Crichton 2, Matariri Halbert-Pere, Netaleni Taufateau tries; Halbert-Pere 5 goals) defeated Celebration Lions 18 (Fabian Kairua, Phillip Nati, David Reed tries; Rawiri Maniapoto-Pakai 3 goals) at Crosbie Park
Eastern Eagles 22 (Sincere Harraway, Jimmy-John Rangiawha, Josh Afamasaga, Diploma Muaimalae tries; Rangiawha 3 goals) defeated Halswell Hornets 8 (Hamish Jarden, Jope Finau tries) at Halswell Domain
Linwood Keas 38 (Mika Moemalo Ulu 3, Paul Sauni 2, Makarini Mohi, Fabricius Sua, Kyle Amer, Danny Samuelu-Latu tries; Sua goal) defeat Northern Bulldogs 6 (Taniela Leka try; Nathaniel Tirikatene goal) at Linwood Park
Hornby Panthers 104 (Christian Fetu 4, Muipu Nati 3, Isileli Pulu 2, Tony Afoa 2, Vione Siaki 2, Caleb Murphy 2, Eti Collins, Denis Davey, Devaun Thompson tries; Murphy 15, James Baxendale goals) defeated Papanui Tigers 6 at Papanui Domain
ISC SPORTS CRL CANTERBURY CUP PREMIER RESERVES
Greymouth Greyhounds 20 defeated Hornby Panthers 16 at Papanui Domain
Eastern Eagles 22 defeated Halswell Hornets 18 at Halswell Domain
Linwood Keas 36 defeated Woolston Rams 32 at Ngā Puna Wai
Ashburbton Barbarians 30 defeated Burnham Chevaliers 28 at Robilliard Park
CRL WOMEN’S PREMIERSHIP
Eastern Eagles 22 drew with Burnham Chevaliers 22 at Wainoni Park