South Canterbury move to top of Heartland table
SOUTH Canterbury inflicted Wanganui’s first loss in two years in the Heartland Championship with a heart-stopping 21-17 victory in Timaru yesterday.
The defending champions dominated the first half but led only 14-7 at the break and South Canterbury stole the game in the last 10 minutes with two tries to wing Kalavini Leatigaga and No 8 Brad Hemopo.
The win lifted South Canterbury to the top of the table, leapfrogging Wanganui, Horowhenua Kapiti and Buller, to have a twopoint lead at the halfway mark of the championship.
For South Canterbury, prop JP Koen, lock Luke Brice and Hemopo played well, while Leatigaga was dangerous every time he was in space.
Wanganui’s best were lock Sokonaia Kalou and first-five Craig Clare, while second five Timoci Seruwalu tried to spark the attack.
The upsets continued with West Coast inflicting Horowhenua Kapiti’s first defeat of the season with a 24-18 win in HEARTLAND CHAMPIONSHIP Greymouth.
The Coasters led all the way with first-five Tom Reekie and fullback Nik Cumming standouts. Halfback Jarred Ferguson also had his moments and grabbed two tries in the bonus-point win,.
Thames Valley also surprised with a four-try, 26-7 win over previously unbeaten Buller in Paeroa. Tighthead prop George Lelenoa and lock Connor McVerry led the way for the Swamp Foxes while hooker Hayden Wisnewski also stood out.
The game was held up for 70 minutes after Thames Valley prop Hayden Anderson broke his leg just after the start.
It was Anderson’s first game back for Thames Valley as a loan player, having tried his luck with Bay of Plenty.
North Otago and Mid Canterbury both also kept their Meads Cup semifinal hopes alive with contrasting wins.
The Old Golds edged out the fast finishing King Country 28-26 in Oamaru, after scoring a try and landing a penalty with a King Country player in the bin.
In Masterton, Mid Canterbury inflicted a big loss on Wairarapa Bush, running in nine tries to four in the 60-24 win.
Despite the loss, Wairarapa are only five points off a spot in the Meads Cup semifinals..
In the battle for the wooden spoon Poverty Bay were too good for East Coast, scoring five tries in their 35-15 victory in Gisborne.
For Poverty Bay, hooker Isaiah Leech, loose forward Siosiua Moala, fullback Ethine Reeves and wing Brodie Lam all played an influential part in the win. Results: Thames Valley 26 Buller 7, North Otago 28 King Country 26, Poverty Bay 35 East Coast 15, South Canterbury 21 Wanganui 17, Mid Canterbury 60 Wairarapa Bush 24, West Coast 24 Horowhenua Kapiti 18.
South Canterbury’s Kalavini Leatigago scores against Wanganui.