NEW ERA GLAZING BULLS OVERWHELMED BY FALCONS AHEAD OF FINAL SHOWDOWN
Akarana Falcons made a solid statement ahead of next Saturday’s NZRL National Premiership final against New Era Glazing Canterbury Bulls, carving out a 50-12 victory in the teams’ round robin-closing clash at Ngā Puna Wai.
A Bulls side missing several experienced stars held the Falcons to a 12-all halftime but leaked 38 unanswered points in what was essentially a dead-rubber encounter.
Unable to convert some early opportunities near Akarana’s line, Canterbury conceded the opening try in the 10th minute as Joseph Price crashed over for the Falcons from close range.
But the home side struck back seven minutes later as captain Danny Samuelu-Latu continued his strong campaign, stepping his way past several Falcons defenders to score.
Canterbury’s goal-line defence was again found wanting with Shaun Tempest powering through for Akarana’s second try.
The Bulls again responded positively, though, with Phil Nati cleaning up the scraps to score from a Jimmy Wihongi bomb nine minutes out from the break. Taniela Leka nailed the sideline conversion to level the scores.
Canterbury started the second stanza impressively but a go-ahead try proved frustratingly elusive.
The floodgates opened after Akarana broke the deadlock in the 49th minute, unleashing a seven-try onslaught in a relentless half-hour as the hosts’ intensity fell away sharply.
Jed Lawrie will be looking for the return of influential five-eighth Daniel Hartley and wing match-winner Penetito Ilalio, among others, to spark an improved performance in the competition decider at North Harbour.
Akarana Falcons 50 (Sol Vasuvalagi 2, Joseph Price, Shaun Tempest, James Gavet, Nicholas Halalilo, James Taumata, Chaz Brown, Brody Tamarua tries; Francis Leger 7 goals) defeated Canterbury Bulls 12 (Danny Samuelu-Latu, Phil Nati tries; Jimmy Wihongi 2 goals) at Ngā Puna Wai.