S Canty go top with shock win
South Canterbury inflicted Wanganui’s first loss in two years in the Heartland Championship with a heart-stopping 21-17 victory in Timaru.
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.
South Canterbury’s defence proved too tough for Wanganui to break despite dominating the possession, while Wanganui’s ill discipline also saw them heavily penalised.
For South Canterbury, prop JP Koen, lock Luke Brice and Hemopo played well, while Leatigaga was dangerous when given space.
Wanganui’s best were lock Sokonaia Kalou and first-five Craig Clare.
The upsets continued with West Coast inflicting Horowhenua Kapiti’s first defeat of the season with a 24-18 win in Greymouth.
The Coasters led all the way with first-five Tom Reekie and fullback Nik Cumming standouts.
In the forwards Troy Tauwhare played strongly in his 50th appearance in ‘red and white’ while lock Lawrence Babe made a big impression in his last game before heading to Hong Kong to take up a professional contract.
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.
Lock Don Lolo, who scored two tries, No 8 Mika Mafi and prop Ralph Darling had strong games up front while first-five Dan Lewis and veteran Lemi Masoe were the best of the backs.
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 for a Meads Cup semi, as the competition continues to throw up surprises.
For Mid Canterbury, Willie McGoon and former All Black Regan King scored two tries each.
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. 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.