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The day after being honoured at the annual Sport Canterbury awards, the Eastern Eagles recorded their third victory of the season, a 20-18 margin over the Celebration Lions on Saturday.
Winless after the opening four games, the Eagles are now well clear of bottom-placed Papanui and are just two points out of the top-four.
They also avenged a campaign-launching 40-10 loss to the Lions, turning the tables to record their third triumph in four weeks.
The Eagles led 20-10 at halftime at Ngā Puna Wai before holding off a second half rally by the Lions, who have now lost four in a row.
“The team is finding that inner drive to win against all odds. It’s that hearty east side mentality,” club president Zion Tauamiti said.
The 36-year-old is one of several veterans coaxed out of retirement to ensure the team has not had to default.
“It’s been really bad with our numbers. We’ve had to call on some players that had retired and guys have answered the call and played their hearts out,” he said.
While the Eagles are on an upward swing, Linwood, leaders Hornby and Halswell solidified their play-off plans with convincing wins.
Undefeated Hornby bounced back from a stalemate with Halswell with a 22-6 win over Riccarton, where father and son combination Corey and Jayton Lawrie were among the Panthers four try scorers headed by James Baxendale’s double.
Linwood claimed the second instalment of last year’s grand final rematch with the Northern Bulldogs to ensure Andrew Auimatagi celebrated his 150th game for the club in style.
The Keas racked up six tries to spike the Bulldogs’ three-match winning streak, as they slip to fourth.
Halswell improved to third with a predictable win over the Tigers and boosted their differential to boot with 40 unanswered points. Veteran centre Ken Tofilau spearheaded the scoring spree with a hat-trick.
Defending champion Lincoln University leads the Christchurch Metro Cup competition for the first time this season after a 52-0 drubbing of Burnside enabled them to overhaul last year’s runners-up Marist Albion on points differential.
Lincoln University dropped two of their first three games but have bounced back through their biggest winning margin of the season.
Burnside had been second on the standings but slipped to fifth ahead of this weekend’s break.
A Garbhan Coughlan hat-trick enabled the Cashmere Technical striker to lead the Mainland Football premiership’s goal scoring stats as the defending champions thrashed Christchurch United 5-1 in 10th round action.
Coughlan opened the scoring in the fifth minute, was on target again in the 23rd and completed his treble early in the second spell.
Coastal Spirit are on track to be the second of five qualifiers in spite of their match with bottom-placed Halswell United being postponed due to Sunday’s deluge.
They maintain second place while Nelson Suburbs leapfrogged Christchurch United into third thanks to a 4-0 drubbing of fifth-placed Nomads United.
Selwyn United won for just the second time this campaign when they beat Ferrymead Bays 3-2.
Ferrymead Bays looked in control after Jimmy Deeham scored from the penalty spot and Ryan Stanley doubled the lead inside 25min before Selwyn recovered through Dorian Grault and Dan Ede before Joe Arnott poked the underdogs in front.
Deeham had an opportunity to drag Ferrymead Bays level but he blasted his second spot kick over the bar.
Ferrymead Bays now take on Christchurch United twice in four days with Friday’s premiership clash followed by a Chatham Cup second round fixture.
Harewood’s 9-0 rout of Southern enabled the reigning Canterbury Hockey’s women’s champion to vault from third to atop the standings on goal difference after five rounds.
Marist are also on 10 points after a 1-0 win over Carlton Redcliffs, who make up the top-four with Avon.
In the men’s competition, Marist maintained their unbeaten record with a 2-1 victory over Carlton Redcliffs to hold a five point lead over Harewood, although they are yet to have a bye.
The second edition of the Mainland Cup takes precedence over the holiday weekend with Canterbury hosting their Otago counterparts at senior and under-18 level.
Lincoln University and Kereru A continue to set the pace in the Christchurch Netball Centre premier grade after seven rounds.
Champions Lincoln beat St Nicholas 53-37, Kereru A also had a comfortable 72-32 win over Technical B.