SENZ CANTERBURY BULLS COME UP SHORT IN SOUTHERN DERBY
The SENZ Canterbury Bulls’ tough NZRL National Premiership round-robin campaign has concluded with a 32-14 loss to Otago Whalers at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium.
The red-hot Whalers scored six tries to three, turning a 16-8 halftime lead into a convincing victory that sealed a historic semi-final appearance and consigns the SENZ Bulls to a relegation match against Waikato Mana next weekend.
Canterbury opened the scoring in the 12th minute through a brilliant chip-and-chase effort from half Etelani Pouli, but Otago made an outstanding double strike to grab a 10-4 lead with wingers Saia Fifita and Opeti Tuimana blazing over out wide.
The SENZ Bulls closed the gap to two points via excellent vision from fullback Ngaheke Nepata, who put in a superb kick for a flying Muipu Nati to dot down.
The Whalers landed a crucial blow three minutes before the break courtesy of a sensational try finished off expertly by Tuimana, who backed up another searing break from fullback Tama Apineru.
The home side struck first in the second stanza when centre Matthew Vocea latched onto a deft grubber from second-rower Louis Tili.
The SENZ Bulls stayed in the hunt as young Hornby prop Jaedon Wellington steamed over from close range off a great flat pass from dummy-half by Cyrus Timo-Latu in the 57th minute.
But that was as good as it good in the second half for the visitors, with powerhouse forward Keenan Masina producing a barnstorming 10-minute double to close out the result for the Whalers.
2023 NZRL NATIONAL PREMIERSHIP – ROUND 3
Otago Whalers 32 defeated SENZ Canterbury Bulls 14 (Etelani Pouli, Muipu Nati, Jaedon Wellington tries; Taniela Leka goal) at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin.