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Bulls Untested at Top of Table

Bulls Untested at Top of Table

Halfback Tevin Arona and centre Matt Sauni had a hat-trick of tries each to help Rockcote Canterbury Bulls maintain their place atop the NZRL National Premiership ladder.

The defending national champions were never pressed in defeating Central Vipers 68-14 in Christchurch, running in 12 tries, with James Baxendale converting 10 of them.

They jumped out to an early 24-0 lead and although the Vipers responded with two tries before the break, it was essentially one-way traffic, as the Bulls outscored their rivals 38-4 over the second half.

Otago-based Isaac Misky’s first try brought up the half-century and he completed his own double with the final touchdown of the game.

The result leaves Canterbury unbeaten and two points clear on top of the competition, but behind them, a dogfight is looming for the finals, with three teams still within a point of each other halfway through the regular season.

One of those sides is not the four-time champions Akarana Falcons, who appear to have slipped out of contention with a heart-breaking 28-26 loss to Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions in Hamilton.

Desperately needing victory to stay alive, the Falcons cruised to an 18-6 half-time and seemed to have rediscovered their mojo.

But the second 40 minutes saw the Stallions completely turn the tables, outscoring their guests 22-8, with Tamatoa Karora-Reu and Victor Karora-Reu recording a try-scoring double each.

Akarana still had a chance to snatch a draw, when they scored a try in the closing minutes, but their goal-kicking had let them down all afternoon.

Despite outscoring their rivals six tries to five, the Falcons could only find the posts once.

Their missed conversion down the stretch left Wai-Coa-Bay still clear at the final hooter and Akarana without a win in the opening month.

Meanwhile, Wellington five-eighth Bronson Marino repeated his first-round heroics to gift the Orcas a 30-28 comeback road win over the plucky Northern Swords in Kaikohe.

The young Swords have not won an NZRL Premiership game since 2013, but held an upper hand over their guests throughout most of today’s encounter, leading 14-8 at halftime and still up by four points with time almost up.

But their valiant effort came up short, when Orcas wing Patrick Ahnau crossed under the bar in the final minute and Marino coolly slotted the winning points.

Three weeks ago, Marino found himself in a similar situation, kicking a penalty goal to snatch a draw against Akarana in their season opener.

Counties Manukau Stallions enjoyed the bye this week and are now tied with Wai-Coa-Bay for second on the ladder, with Wellington sitting just a point astray.

NZRL National Premiership
Saturday, September 19

Lindvart Park, Kaikohe
Wellington Orcas 30 (Axton Daniels, David Saumolia, Ulai Oti, Joseph Oti, Patrick Ahnau & Michael O’Brien tries; Bronson Marino 3 goals) Northern Swords 28 (Israel Tahere, Caleb Aekins, Anaru Thompson, Daniel Fulop, Kyle Hool & Eli George tries; Fulop 2 goals); HT: 8-14

AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Rockcote Canterbury Bulls 68 (Matt Sauni 3, Tevin Arona 3, Isaac Misky 2, Erwin Sauni, James Wihongi, Chris Bamford & James Baxendale tries; Baxendale 10 goals) Central Vipers 14 (Lima Eteru, Kele Kose & Gordon Karaitiana tries; Matthew Murtha goal); HT: 30-10

Resthills Park, Hamilton
Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions 28 (Tamatoa Karora-Reu 2, Victor Karora-Reu 2 & Hayden Karena tries; Karena 4 goals) Akarana Falcons 26 (Corey Seator 3, Faleapa Rome, Morgan Timoti-Cook & Taylor Daniel tries; Zensei Inu goal): HT: 6-18


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