The Hornby Panthers have snuck into next Sunday's Canterbury Rugby League club final with a tough 10-6 win over the Aranui Eagles on Saturday.
The Panthers booked their grand final date with the Halswell Hornets, winning the low-scoring preliminary final on the back of improved defence.
Hornby leaked 42 points in last weekend's major semifinal against Halswell without Corey Lawrie, but they were back to their defensive best against Aranui with the stalwart back in tow.
“I missed last week's game so the boys blamed the defence on me,” Lawrie said.
“We were under the pump quite often today but the boys kept turning up for each other and we held them out well.”
It was always going to require something special for either side to break down their opponent's line. That is what the Panthers produced when winger James Kiernan-Ngatai made a break on halfway before he outpaced Aranui's valiant chasers to make it 10-0 with 20 minutes to play following James Baxendale's conversion.
Aranui's Nepia Reweti set up a grandstand finish with a try eight minutes from time.
The Northern Bulldogs will play the Celebration Lions in next week's Gore Cup grand final after the Kaiapoi-based club cruised past the Riccarton Knights in the preliminary final 32-10.
Pat Smith Trophy 2012, preliminary final: Hornby Panthers 10 (Arvi Komeue, James Kiernan-Ngatai tries; James Baxendale goal) Aranui Eagles 6 (Nepia Reweti try; Josh Ka goal). Referee: Gary Smallridge. HT: 4-0. Gore Cup 2012, preliminary final: Northern Bulldogs 32 (Rainier McKenzie 3, Chris Keane, Josh Reuben, Anton Ferguson tries; Nathaniel Tirikatene 4 goals) Riccarton Knights 10 (Jared Neho, Mikey Wright tries; Luke Rosvall goal) Referee: Mike Glover. HT: 18-0.
- The Press
Should Todd Blackadder stay on as Crusaders coach?Related story: Coach Todd Blackadder's job at Crusaders safe