Panthers pip Aranui in playoff

ANTHONY MORGAN
Last updated 18:54 04/08/2012

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The Hornby Panthers booked their spot in next Sunday's grand final with the Halswell Hornets after they won a low scoring preliminary final 10-6 over the Aranui Eagles at Crosbie Park today.

In a match befitting a grand final qualifier between the second and third placed teams on the ladder, it was Hornby who got off to the better start with a try to Arvi Komeue in the first five minutes.

Both sides' defence remained staunch thereafter, with Aranui going closest when they crossed from a forward pass. The halftime score was 4-0.

The defensive nature of the game continued into the second half with Aranui pressing hard on the Hornby line and looking to level up the scores.

Once Hornby held out Aranui's repeated attacking raids they then punished them the best way possible when winger James Kiernan-Ngatai broke through a couple of tackles on a blinding 50 metre run which gave the black and whites a 10-0 buffer with 20 minutes to play.

Aranui didn't lie down as they set up a grandstand finish when Nepia Reweti scored and Josh Ka converted to close the margin to four but they never seriously threatened to steal the game from the Panthers' grasp thereafter.

The Northern Bulldogs will play the Celebration Lions in next week's Gore Cup grand final after the Kaiapoi-based club comfortably beat the Riccarton Knights 32-10 at Papanui Domain.

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