Linwood snare final playoff spot

The Linwood Keas were given a preview of the cut-throat nature of playoff rugby league on Saturday.

With the winners of their match with the Celebration Lions qualifying for the fourth and final playoff spot, the Keas won 16-12 but had a nervous finish to their game.

With time up on the clock, the Lions had a Kyle Leka try disallowed for being offside.

“The ref was about to award the try but the touchie on the other side put his flag out,” Lions manager Martin Cullen said. “It was the last play of the game and we made a good break down the right, so it was a shame that it got ruled out.”

Linwood manager Ian Gamblin was much happier.

“They were offside from the kick. Their forwards were ahead of the ball. Fortunately for us, the linesman called it back,” he said. “We play Aranui next in the semifinal and we get a couple of players back from injury."

Hornby continued the momentum from last week's win over Halswell when they demolished Riccarton 46-16 at Crosbie Park.

The western suburbs heavyweights will meet in next week's major semifinal. Halswell warmed up for the clash in fine fashion, downing Aranui 40-24. The win was built on a strong first half and they led 30-10 at the break.

Papanui's season ended winless when they suffered their 14th consecutive loss - to the Northern Bulldogs 32-8 at Murphy Park - but there were signs of improvement. For the first time in 2012, they were able to field a full-strength 17-man lineup and their defence was strong in the second half as they allowed only two Bulldogs' tries.

“Our defence is getting better and always improving and Jason Taiaroa and Sam Taunoa have been the leaders . . . while Tito Pa has broken the line a lot with ball in hand,” Papanui manager James Winstanley said.

Winstanley was confident Papanui could notch their first win of the season next week in a rematch with the Bulldogs in the Gore Cup.