Linwood make seventh straight grand-final

Photo: Abraham Atherton
Photo: Abraham Atherton
The Linwood Keas will contest their seventh straight grand-final after a gripping victory over Massetti Cup-winners, the Hornby Panthers, in the Bartercard NZ CRL Men’s Premiership semi-finals, while Halswell Hornets booked a preliminary final berth by edging Northern Bulldogs in a sudden-death extra-time thriller.

The Keas and Panthers – who faced off in four straight deciders from 2016-19, all won by Linwood – split their regular-season matches, setting up a massive semi-final showdown at Hornby.

The arch-rivals delivered, with the Keas ultimately prevailing 14-10 after an epic arm-wrestle.

The five-time defending champs led 14-6 at halftime. The Panthers posted the only try of the second half but were unable to find a go-ahead score.

Canterbury Bulls coach Andrew Auimatagi, who has steered Linwood to four straight premierships (2016-19) from the sidelines, is on track to play in a grand final for the first time in more than a decade after lining up for the Keas at five-eighth.

The Panthers will get a second bite at the grand final cherry next week against the Hornets, who needed extra-time to eliminate the Northern Bulldogs 28-22 in the minor semi-final at Halswell Domain.

The teams were locked 12-all at halftime and 22-all when the whistle went at 80 minutes.

But it was the Hornets who came up with the decisive play in the extra-time pressure-cooker, with centre Nick Evans’ second try in the first half of the added period proving the match-winner.

The Walter Wilson-coached Halswell side is vying for their first grand final appearance since winning the 2014 title – but preliminary final opponents Hornby can take the psychological edge after their 64-12 landslide final-round win when the neighbouring teams last met.

The fifth-placed Celebration Lions grabbed the first Gore Cup final spot, fighting back from a halftime deficit to beat Eastern Eagles 22-20.

The Eagles will play Riccarton Knights next week. The Knights thumped Papanui Tigers 50-12, with promising fullback Matariki Halbert-Pere racking up 26 points from three tries and seven goals.

In the Canterbury Cup premiers reserves semi-finals, table-topping Marist Saints-Papanui outlasted Northern Bulldogs 20-12 to seal their Grand Final spot and the Hornets defeated the Panthers 32-16 in the elimination semi.


Linwood Keas 14 (Phil Wahnig, Alex Todd, Rihara Peeti tries; Leon Jarden goal) defeated Hornby Panthers 10 (Jordan Campbell, Charlie Charlie tries: James Baxendale goal) at Leslie Park

Halswell Hornets 28 (Nick Evans 2, Jope Finau, Allen Morrison, Keenan Williams tries; Jamie Nuttridge 4 goals) defeated Northern Bulldogs 22 (Josh Rawiri 2, Nick Wain, Josh Endacott tries; Endacott 2, Nathaniel Tirikatene goals) at Halswell Domain


Celebration Lions 22 defeated Eastern Eagles 20 at Cuthberts Green
Riccarton Knights 50 defeated Papanui Tigers 12 at Crosbie Park


Marist Saints-Papanui 20 defeated Northern Bulldogs 12 at Bishopdale Park
Halswell Hornets 32 defeated Hornby Panthers 16 at Halswell Domain

-By Will Evans



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