1st October


2023 Men’s National Premiership, final round

Canterbury Bulls v Waikato 12:00 pm, Navigation Homes Stadium Pukekohe


Final score: Waikato 34-22

In this North Island v South Island match-up, the Waikato men shot out of the gates first, scoring in their first attacking set in only the second minute. A well-placed kick, followed by a remarkable offload by Semisi Moala, put winger Thompson Karena over for a try in the corner. The South Islanders responded quickly with a try of their own produced by veteran left winger Penitito Ilalio, then successfully converted by Daniel Hartley. Capitalising off a repeat set and a Canterbury penalty, Waikato skilfully spread the ball right for Taylor Leef to score. The Cantabrians struggled to keep Waikato out, as Kena Rangi darted from dummy-half to crash over for the side’s third try. To close out the half, a line break by the powerful prop Samiuela Matangi created an opportunity for Mahuta Ngataki to score, bringing it to 20-6 to Waikato at halftime.


In the second half’s opening, the Waikato men continued their momentum, scoring early as Leef crossed for his second. Continuing to dominate through the middle of the park, an excellent kick was collected and scored by Karena in his second of the day. The South Islanders refused to go down without a fight, with #15 Jimmy Wihongi showing his skill and agility in an individual try. This seemingly energised the Bulls as their attacking efforts improved, with some deceptive ball play putting prop Matthew Black in for a try. On the game’s very last play, a pin-point kick put Ilalio in good position to score his second, closing the match. Despite the hearty late efforts by the Canterbury Bulls, the dominance of the Waikato men in the late first half and early second half could not be topped.


Canterbury Bulls try scorers

#5 Penitito Ilalio – 2 tries

#8 Matthew Black

#15 Jimmy Wihongi


#16 Daniel Hartley – 3/3


Waikato try scorers

#1 Mahuta Ngataki

#3 Taylor Leef – 2 tries

#5 Thompson Karena – 2 tries

#14 Kena Rangi

#23 Samiuela Matangi


#6 Evaan Reihana 2/5

#13 Jordan Grace 1/1