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The race for the CRL Bartercard Mens’ Premiership finals spots tightened up with the fast-finishing Hornby Panthers nabbing a crucial win and Northern Bulldogs going down convincingly at home in round 11 of the Massetti Cup.
Meanwhile, the Linwood Keas, Halswell Hornets and Eastern Eagles consolidated the top three places on the table with big victories.
Hornby outlasted seventh-placed Celebration 22-12 at Leslie Park, but only after tries to Caleb Murphy and Allan Gillies provided the defending champs with some breathing space.
The Lions had scored the opening try of the second half to level the scores at 12-all.
The result saw the Panthers claw to within two points of the fourth-placed Bulldogs who were overwhelmed 34-4 by the in-form Hornets at Murphy Park.
Long-serving centre Ken Tofilau scored two tries in the first half and fullback Jacob Nyman bagged a double after the break as the second-placed Hornets improved to a 9-2 record.
Hornby and Northern square off on Saturday in a pivotal showdown with three rounds remaining.
Eastern opened up a four-point gap in third spot courtesy of a 70-8 defeat of Papanui, with front-rower Uriah Esau cashing in for three of the Eagles’ 13 tries at Wainoni Park.
Linwood looks assured of finishing top of the table, going 11-0 with a 52-10 win over Riccarton. The Keas stormed to a 48-0 lead after Mika Moemalo Ulu scored his third try in the opening stages of the second half, but the Knights were able to stem the flow of points and peg a couple of tries back for themselves.
The Keas are four points clear of the Hornets, while the sixth-placed Knights are four points adrift of the top four and will need other results to fall their way to sneak into the playoffs.
CRL 2022: BARTERCARD MEN’S PREMIERSHIP ROUND 11
- Hornby Panthers 22 (Muipu Nati, Chrisitan Fetu, Caleb Murphy, Allan Gillies tries; Murphy 3 goals) defeated Celebration Lions 12 (Jordan Kamana, Kasi Leka tries; Rawiri Maniapoto-Pakai 2 goals) at Leslie Park.
- Linwood Keas 52 (Mika Moemalo Ulu 3, Makarini Mohi 2, Erwin Sauni, Matthew Molioo, Makai Tafua, Michael Fili tries; Daniel Hartley 8 goals) defeated Riccarton Knights 10 (Justin Lynch, Jeremy Green tries; Arlan Josch Perez goal) at Linwood Park.
- Eastern Eagles 70 (Uriah Esau 3, Henare Nukunuku 2, Cyrus Timo-Latu 2, Sivaimauga Elia Lui, Junior Peneli, Kolone Faalilo, Josh Afamasaga, Jimmy-John Rangiawha, Harold Kolose tries; Rangiawha 4, Nukunuku 4, Timo-Latu goals) defeated Papanui Tigers 8 at Wainoni Park.
- Halswell Hornets 34 (Ken Tofilau 2, Jacob Nyman 2, Tahemaka Nui, Cameron Greig tries; Jamie Nuttridge 5 goals) defeated Northern Bulldogs 4 (Matthew Clough try) at Murphy Park.
CRL 2022: ISC SPORT CANTERBURY CUP TOP 6
- Linwood Keas 30 defeated Hornby Panthers 20 at Linwood Park.
- Eastern Eagles 20 defeated Woolston Rams 12 at Woolston Park.
- Greymouth Greyhounds 42 defeated Halswell Hornets 14 at Ngā Puna Wai.
CRL 2022: ISC SPORT CANTERBURY CUP BOTTOM 3
- Burnham Chevaliers 56 defeated Ashburton Barbarians 20 at Coronation Park.
CRL 2022: WOMEN’S PREMIERSHIP ROUND 7
- Woolston Rams 48 defeated Burnham Chevaliers 16 at Coronation Park.
- Linwood Keas 26 defeated Sydenham Swans 20 at Bradford Park.
-By Will Evans