Percival penalty on the bell stuns Heartland champs
DEFENDING champions Wanganui were stunned for the second straight week in the Heartland Championship going down 40-39 to Mid Canterbury in Ashburton in a thriller yesterday.
Mid Canterbury stole an unlikely win with a Jared Percival penalty right on full time, which took his personal points haul to 20 from the boot.
In what was an entertaining encounter, Mid Canterbury struck early with a try to Christian Vainerere and, by halftime, 55 points had been scored, with the hosts up 31-24.
Mid Canterbury fullback Maleli Sau’s second effort was a contender for ‘try of the season’.
Percival snatched an intercept and took off down the field but didn’t have the gas. HIs cross-field kick bounced favourably for Sau and Mid Canterbury were suddenly out to 31-12.
Two Wanganui tries late in the first half to Kaveni Dabenaise and Cameron Crowley however narrowed the the gap.
A Percival penalty after the break gave Mid Canterbury a 10 point buffer, and one more penalty apiece made it 37-27 before Mid Canterbury was reduced to 14, after Seta Koroitamana was yellow carded.
A second Dabenaise try with HEARTLAND CHAMPIONSHIP less than 10 minutes to go gave Wanganui the lead but the missed conversion left the door ajar at 39-37 and Percival banged a 45 metre penalty to steal the win.
Poverty Bay also pulled off a big upset in Gisborne, beating West Coast comfortably 36-19 to notch up their second win in the championship.
It also put a dent in West Coast’s top four aspirations. They sit seventh on the table.
For Poverty Bay, No 8 Siosiua Moala had a big game while right wing Andrew Tauatevalu also impressed with two tries.
Top of the table South Canterbury managed to hang on to beat a tenacious North Otago 36-29 in Timaru, to retain the Hanan Shield.
South Canterbury led early 17-3 and had the four-try bonus point before halftime but North DOUG FIELD/STUFF Otago kept coming back.
For North Otago, veteran centre Lemi Masoe was very good, bagging two tries, while No 8 Mika Mafi had a big game considering he had played 79 minutes for Otago against Auckland on Thursday night.
South Canterbury’s best were openside Nick Strachan and halfback Willie Wright who defended very well, while the elusive Kalavini Leatigaga kept up his try scoring antics on the wing with three more to his tally
Horowhenua Kapiti sliced up East Coast 52-3 running in seven tries in Otaki, all of which were converted.
The win saw them to go into second place alone, two points behind South Canterbury and two ahead of Buller and Thames Valley.
Hooker David McErlane scored three tries.
In Westport, Buller didn’t have it all their own way either with Wairarapa Bush in it until the end before succumbing 29-24.
For Buller, lock Robbie Bonisch had a huge game while blindside Luke Watson was in everything.
Wairarapa were competitive at the breakdown, with flanker Eddie Cranston a standout.
Thames Valley kept their top four hopes alive with a high scoring 45-36 win over King Country in Te Kuiti.
South Canterbury captain Kieran Coll charges towards North Otago halfback Robbie Smith in the Heartland Championship.