A short-handed Celebration Lions side made a statement of intent with their 24-16 win over the Hornby Panthers at Leslie Park today.
The win - their fifth in a row - keeps them in touch with the top four.
After being forced to play a half the second half with 11 men after Kane Ferris was sent off for a high shot and Kasi Leka was sent to the sin bin, the Lions repelled no less than eight consecutive sets by Hornby on their own line to grind out a crucial victory.
Once Leka returned, fellow Celebration forward Kahu Epiha was sent from the field in a match that threatened to spill over as both sides started to niggle away.
After Richie Hanson brought Hornby back to 20-16 with a late try, Celebration hit back with a Jonathan Lima flick pass to John Tafua as the props combined well to seal a gutsy win for the Lions.
In other games, Halswell maintained their unbeaten record with a solid second half to douse the Linwood Keas 26-16, Aranui firmed as favourites to finish second when they disposed of the Papanui Tigers 64-10 and Riccarton's freefall continued when they fell 28-26 to the Northern Bulldogs at Crosbie Park.
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