CRL 2023: FINALS WEEK 2 WRAP
Linwood and Hornby will meet in the Pat Smith Trophy decider for the seventh time in eight years after the Panthers carved out a 26-12 victory in Saturday’s CRL Men’s Premiership preliminary final against Halswell Hornets.
The Panthers, who bundled the Hornets out of the finals at the corresponding stage in 2021-22, got out to a big first-half lead at Leslie Park and finished with a wet sail to quell a plucky fight-back from the visitors either side of halftime.
Hornby ran in the opening three tries of the do-or-die showdown, but Halswell responded with tries to Phil Nati and Jamie Nuttridge – both converted by the latter – to cut the deficit to 14-12 in the second stanza.
The Panthers rallied, however, scoring two more tries and putting the match out of reach with a penalty goal from Tevin Arona, whose long-range runaway try was one of the highlights of the afternoon. Second-rower Zinzaan Martin and wingers Dene Grace and Christian Fetu also got on the board for the hosts, while Denis Davey grabbed a four-pointer off the bench.
Hornby will aim to turn the tables on Linwood when the archrivals meet on Happy Hire CRL Grand Final Day at Ngā Puna Wai, after the defending premiers snatched a thrilling 21-20 win in last weekend’s major semi.
Meanwhile, it’s also a repeat 2022 Grand Final Day match-up in the CRL Women’s Premiership following Sydenham Swans’ emphatic 60-0 semi-final defeat of Woolston Rams at Ngā Puna Wai.
Despite going down 36-16 when the teams met in the final round of the regular season just seven days earlier, the Swans raced to a 26-0 lead in the semi and were even more dominant in the second half.
The Swans will take on the table-topping Linwood Keas in next Sunday’s decider; the Keas clinched the title with a nail-biting 22-20 triumph last year.
2023 CRL MEN’S PREMIERSHIP – PRELIMINARY FINAL
Hornby Panthers 26 (Dene Grace, Christian Fetu, Tevin Arona, Zinzaan Martin, Denis Davey tries; Arona 3 goals) defeated Halswell Hornets 12 (Jamie Nuttridge, Phil Nati tries; Nuttridge 2 goals) at Leslie Park
2023 CRL WOMEN’S PREMIERSHIP – SEMI-FINAL
Sydenham Swans 60 defeated Woolston Rams 0 at Ngā Puna Wai