Wan­ganui win Meads Cup

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Wan­ganui stamped their au­thor­ity as the pow­er­house of the Heart­land Cham­pi­onship with a fifth Meads Cup win, al­beit by the clos­est of mar­gins. The Butcher Boys how­ever took 75 min­utes to get past a brave Buller out­fit 30-28 at Cooks Gar­dens.

In fact, the coun­try’s small­est union had two late chances to send the game into ex­tra time but the usu­ally re­li­able left foot of James Lash pushed both at­tempts wide. Three weeks ear­lier, Wan­ganui had beaten Buller 28-0 but the fi­nal was a to­tally dif­fer­ent af­fair, with Buller dom­i­nat­ing at times. Only twice in 11 years have the Butcher Boys not ap­peared in the cham­pi­onships fi­nale.

Sadly for Buller, it was their sec­ond loss in three years in the end of sea­son show piece. For Wan­ganui cap­tain Peter Rowe had a strong game in his last out­ing for the province. Rowe said nei­ther side left any­thing out on the pad­dock and he con­grat­u­lated Buller for their ef­forts.

“We just kept be­liev­ing. It was ev­ery­thing a fi­nal should be.” Lock Gavin Thorn­bury im­pressed in the pack as did No.8 Malakai Vo­lau.

In the backs wing Te Ran­gatira Waitokia looked dan­ger­ous at times, while the ex­pe­ri­enced Lind­say Hor­rocks and vet­eran Craig Clare de­liv­ered when it mat­tered. Buller’s best were loose for­wards Daniel Hy­tongue and Blair McIl­roy, while 42-year-old prop Phil Bev­eridge never took a back­ward step.

SCOR­ERS: Wan­ganui 20 (Gavin Thorn­bury, Craig Clare tries, Clare 2 con, 2 pen) Buller 18 (An­thony Tailua 2, James Lash 2 con, pen) HT:10-10.Stuff

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