Stern test ahead for premiership leaders

Halswell’s Iraia De Goldi looks to evade the tackle of Greymouth’s Harry Millar during their...
Halswell’s Iraia De Goldi looks to evade the tackle of Greymouth’s Harry Millar during their round 1 clash at Wingham Park. PHOTO: KIRSTY WILSON PHOTOGRAPHY
After two rounds, Halswell Hornets are flying high in the Canterbury Rugby League premiership, winning their opening games to sit at the top of the table.

They are also in possession of the Thacker Shield after winning it off Greymouth Greyhounds in round 1.

Halswell coach Ray Hubbard said it was important to get out of the gates early.

“We want to assert ourselves early and be consistent week-to-week. If we can avoid having those dips in performance and be consistent across the board, then it’s going to hold us in a good position throughout the season.

“The challenge now is we’ve stuck our necks out pretty early, so everyone will look to lift and knock us off.”

In this weekend’s magic round, with all games being held at Ngā Puna Wai, they’ll face their toughest challenge yet – Hornby Panthers, coming off a spirited 26-all draw with reigning champions Linwood Keas.

Hornby have beaten Halswell in the elimination final to knock them out of the competition in each of the last three years, but Hubbard said he doesn’t want his side to focus on past results.

“The boys have just got to show up and individually do their job and I think we’ll be able to put on a strong showing.”

But he said it was impossible for his side to not gain some extra motivation.

“It’s easy to sort of say (there’s) no (extra motivation), but probably subconsciously, yes.

“We definitely owe them a couple.”

Hornby and Halswell will clash in the final game of Saturday’s round, with Linwood looking to bounce back from their draw with Hornby when they take on winless Greymouth.

The other match of the round sees Riccarton Knights take on Eastern Eagles.

CRL premiership round 3 (Saturday, Ngā Puna Wai)
  • Greymouth Greyhounds v Linwood Keas, 3pm
  • Riccarton Knights v Eastern Eagles, 5pm
  • Hornby Panthers v Halswell Hornets, 7pm
Halswell 4; Hornby 3; Linwood 3; Eastern 2; Riccarton 0; Greymouth 0