Three second-half turnarounds highlighted a thrilling eighth round of the 2022 CRL Bartercard Men’s Premiership, with Linwood Keas, Halswell Hornets, Eastern Eagles taking another step towards finals footy and Northern Bulldogs landing a crucial blow in a furious battle for fourth spot.
Linwood remains unbeaten with a four-point break on the rest of the competition, but the perennial heavyweights were forced to dig deep to pull off a 28-24 win against archrival Hornby at Leslie Park.
The Keas raced out to a 12-0 lead in even time but the defending champs squared up the scoreboard before the break and surged to a 24-18 lead midway through the second half. Late tries to Keas winger Makarini Mohi and second-rower Kyle Amer stole the match away from the Panthers, who sit sixth on the Massetti Cup ladder with a 3-5 record.
High-flying Eastern carved out a 42-18 victory over seventh-placed Celebration – but the result hung in the balance for more than an hour. The plucky Lions fought back from an early 12-0 deficit at Cuthberts Green to level the scores by halftime and snatched their first lead of the match early in the second stanza.
But the Eagles clicked into gear with five unanswered tries – two of them finished off by lock Uale Peneli – to power away for an ultimately convincing win.
Northern needed a late charge to eclipse Riccarton 22-20 at Murphy Park – a result that saw the Bulldogs leapfrog the Knights into fourth.
The visitors led 16-4 early in the second half and 20-10 with 20 minutes to go, but the Bulldogs rallied with converted tries to lock Ethan Plaskett and halfback Taniela Leka.
Halswell retained second spot on for-and-against over Eastern with an 86-0 defeat of Papanui. Second-rower Josh Everett hogged the limelight by running in five of the Hornets’ first nine tries, before the outside backs dominated the late scoring with winger Jope Finau and centre Cameron Greig bagging second-half doubles.
The Knights host the Panthers in a crunch game in Round 9, while the Eagles will be eager to prove themselves as a Grand Final contender at Linwood Park against the 8-0 Keas. The Lions hunt their second win of the season when they welcome the Hornets to Cuthberts Green and the Bulldogs head to Papanui Domain searching for back-to-back victories for the first time in 2022.
BARTERCARD MEN’S PREMIERSHIP:
Celebration Lions 18-42 Eastern Eagles
Halswell Hornets 86-0 Papanui Tigers
Hornby Panthers 24-28 Linwood Keas
Northern Bulldogs 22-20 Riccarton
ISC SPORT CANTERBURY CUP:
Hornby Panthers 36-12 Northern Bulldogs
Halswell Hornets 20-14 Woolston Rams
Ashburton 30-40 Eastern Eagles
Greymouth Greyhounds 42-12 Burnham