Panthers doing it for Baxy

VACATION: Hornby Panthers and Canterbury Bulls captain James Baxendale will be in Croatia during Sunday's grand-final.

The Hornby Panthers will be doing it for Baxy when they meet the Linwood Keas in the club rugby league grand-final at Linfield Park on Sunday.

The battle for the Pat Smith Trophy was set to be played last Sunday at AMI Stadium. However, due to severe flooding last month a round of the competition was pushed back a week, forcing Canterbury Rugby League to find another venue.

It also means Panthers captain James Baxendale will be receiving updates on the game from Croatia. The back-rower had arranged the overseas trip with a group of friends for after what was going to be the end of the club season.

After going down to the Keas in last year’s grand-final, Baxendale was eager to get redemption this season.

“He was in tears when he realised he wouldn’t be able to play the grand-final,” said Panthers coach Jed Lowrie.

“The younger boys have really bought into wanting to go out there and do it for him on Sunday.”

Baxendale won his first title with the Panthers in 2006 and has since gone on to win numerous club titles and a national premiership with the Canterbury Bulls.

Several grades will play their finals at Linfield Park – the home of Linwood rugby union. It will be a special day for the Keas, who will have four teams playing in finals.

“Our boys are relishing the chance to play in front of our community,” said Keas coach Andrew Auimatagi.

“We’re actually playing Hornby in the 16s, premier reserves and premier finals, so it’s pretty cool for both clubs.”

The Keas defeated the Papanui Tiger 30-24 in the preliminary final at the weekend, while the Panthers had the weekend off after defeating the Keas in the major semi-final.

“The week off has worked really well for us. Having to play the extra game last year definitely didn’t work in our favour,” said Lowrie.

•The grand-final kicks off at 3pm.

•For details of matches, go to the Canterbury Rugby League website.

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