Ham­mers go down against neigh­bours

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - AUTOZONE - RUGBY

Mid Can­ter­bury suf­fered their sec­ond loss on the trot in rugby’s Heart­land Cham­pi­onship on Sat­ur­day, go­ing down 31-16 to South Can­ter­bury in Ash­bur­ton.

South Can­ter­bury re­tained the Hanan Shield with the win and are now tied for sec­ond spot on the lad­der af­ter three rounds, while Mid Can­ter­bury have only their win over Poverty Bay in round one to their name and could be in dan­ger of miss­ing out on the top six and a chance to play for the Meads Cup.

Mid Can­ter­bury co coach Craig Dun­lea said his side never re­ally got go­ing.

‘‘There were lit­tle things that let us down and then the game got away from us a bit.

‘‘I was happy with the way we came back at the end but it was a bit late.’’

Mid Can­ter­bury’s best was Eric Duff, while young No.8 Sam Finau made some strong runs in the first half. Sub­sti­tute Seta Koroita­mana also had an im­pact off the bench.

The game me­an­dered be­tween the 22s for the first 30 min­utes, un­til No.8 Brad He­mopo drove over from close range for the vis­i­tors, and open side Nick Stra­chan was next to score when South Can­ter­bury opted for a quick tap close to the line.

Half­back Wil­lie Wright con­verted both for 14-0 half­time lead.

Early in the sec­ond half Mid Can­ter­bury opted to kick two penal­ties to close to eight points, but South Can­ter­bury then went fur­ther ahead af­ter a strong run from Marac Beck­ham, leav­ing wing Kalavini Leati­gaga to score his eas­i­est try of the sea­son, div­ing over from two me­tres out.

With 60 min­utes gone Vatil­iai Tora scored the bonus point try, with a tremen­dous solo ef­fort, when he used his strength to brush de­fend­ers off and then beat the full­back to score.

Duff then got one back for the home side, the lock stand­ing out wide and run­ning in un­touched as the South Can­ter­bury de­fence was caught out, and at 24-11 the

‘‘The game got away from us.’’

Craig Dun­lea, co-coach

hosts had a sniff.

He­mopo how­ever ex­tended the lead with his sec­ond try af­ter a good bust.

Mid Can­ter­bury had the fi­nal say when wing Maleli Sau sprinted in, to fin­ish off a move that started in their own half, but it was too lit­tle, too late.

Mid Can­ter­bury now head to Master­ton to take on Wairarapa Bush, an­other side that only has one win to its name af­ter three rounds. They then head home again to play Wan­ganui.

TETSURO MITOMO

Jared Per­ci­val puts in a big fend dur­ing Mid Can­ter­bury’s loss to South Can­ter­bury in round three of rugby’s Heart­land Cham­pi­onship.

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