Halswell Hornets made the journey home over the Southern Alps with the hallowed Thacker Shield in two, courtesy of a convincing win in Greymouth Greyhounds’ historic top-grade debut at Wingham Park in the opening round of the 2024 CRL Whitehead Plumbing & Gas Men’s Premiership.

Perennial grand finalists Linwood Keas and Hornby Panthers also got off to a winning start in close-fought encounters.

After a unique preamble in front of a bumper crowd in Greymouth – with a pair of greyhound mascots led onto the field – the Hornets rocketed out of the gates with four tries in the opening 25 minutes. The Greyhounds regrouped with Jordan Campbell having the honour of scoring the club’s maiden premiership try and Aston Wilson also crossing, but the hosts trailed 24-10 at the break.

Hornets interchange Iraia De Goldi scored his second try to set the tone for a four-tries-to-nil second half and an emphatic 46-10 final result.

The Keas won a gripping eastside derby against Eastern Eagles 16-14 at Linwood Park. The two-time defending premiers led 6-4 at halftime after wing debutant DeVante Kakoi-Coppen’s try cancelled out Henare Nukunuku’s opener for the Eagles.

Front-rower George Faaiva extended Linwood’s advantage, but D’Angelo Siu-Tauti and Mino Petelo hit back for Eastern in a four-minute burst midway through the second half.

Trailing 14-12, the Keas grabbed the win through winger Uili Uili’s 72nd-minute try.

The Panthers, runners-up in the 2022-23 grand finals after claiming the Pat Smith Challenge Trophy in 2021, beat CRL Whitehead Plumbing & Gas Pre-season Competition winners Riccarton Knights 26-20 in a seesawing battle at Crosbie Park.

Hornby got off to a flyer thanks to tries to Jaedon Wellington and Zinzaan Martin – the latter a superb long-range effort by the centre from a scrum win – but Joel Leka and Justin Lynch dotted down to square up at 8-all inside 20 minutes. Toby Gibson gave the Panthers a halftime lead with a try but Leka’s second just after the break tied the scores again.

Following a lengthy stalemate, Johnny Joshua Fine and Devaun Thompson scored in quick succession to put the visitors up by 12, before Rangitane Thompson’s try gave the Knights a late sniff.

In a rematch of the pre-season finalists, the Hornets will defend the Thacker Shield at Halswell Domain against the Knights next Saturday in Round 2 of the CRL Whitehead Plumbing & Gas Men’s Premiership.

Elsewhere, there’s a grand final rematch between the Panthers and Keas at Leslie Park, and the Eagles host the Greyhounds in their inaugural premiership road trip.

Halswell Hornets also took the ISC Sports Canterbury Cup spoils in Greymouth, overwhelming the Greyhounds’ Premier Reserves affiliate Papanui Tigers 30-12.

Meanwhile, Eastern Eagles defeated defending Canterbury Cup champions Linwood Keas 42-24, with second-rower Terekia Roberts bagging a hat-trick, and Riccarton Knights underlined the club’s depth in 2024 with an emphatic 42-14 victory over Hornby Panthers.

Addington Magpies marked their return to the Division One ranks with a thrilling 40-38 eclipse of the Knights, while Ashburton Barbarians pipped Burnham Chevaliers 32-30 in another nail-biter. Northern Bulldogs made an early statement with a 52-16 defeat of Woolston Rams and Shirley Hawks outlasted Papanui Tigers 28-12.


Halswell Hornets 46 (Iraia De Goldi 2, Tahemaka Nui, Nicholas Evans, Antonio Lemalu, Ollie Hansen, Cameron-Brody Greig, Cooper Te Hau, Kalyne Thomas-Dallas tries; Jacob Nyman 3, Greig 2 goals)  defeated Greymouth Greyhounds 10 (Jordan Campbell, Aston Wilson tries; Jacob Lowe goal) at Wingham Park

Hornby Panthers 26 (Jaedon Wellington, Zinzaan Martin, Toby Gibson, Johnny Joshua Fine, Devaun Thompson tries; Tyrone Hill 3 goals)  defeated Riccarton Knights 20 (Joel Leka 2, Justin Lynch, Rangitane Thompson tries; Matariri Halbert-Pere 2 goals) at Crosbie Park

Linwood Keas 16 (DeVante Kakoi-Coppen, George Faaiva, Uili Uili tries; Daniel Hartley 2 goals) defeated Eastern Eagles 14 (Henare Nukunuku, D’Angelo Siu-Tauti, Mino Petelo tries; Cyrus Timo-Latu goal) at Linwood Park



Halswell Hornets 26 defeated Papanui Tigers at Wingham Park
Riccarton Knights 42 defeated Hornby Panthers 14 at Crosbie Park
Eastern Eagles 42 defeated Linwood Keas 24 at Linwood Park



Ashburton Barbarians 32 defeated Burnham Chevaliers 30 at Robilliard Park
Shirley Hawks 28 defeated Papanui Tigers 12 at MacFarlane Park
Northern Bulldogs 52 defeated Woolston Rams 16 at Woolston Park

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