South Can­ter­bury up­set cham­pi­ons

The Press - - Sport - STU PIDDINGTON

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 tries to wing Kavavini Leati­gago and No 8 Brad He­mopo.

The win lifted South Can­ter­bury to the top of the table, leapfrog­ging Wan­ganui, Horowhenua Kapiti and Buller to open up a two-point lead..

South Can­ter­bury’s de­fence proved too tough for Wan­ganui to break, while the vis­i­tors’ ill dis­ci­pline saw them heav­ily pe­nalised, giv­ing away penal­ties 10 in the first half.

For South Can­ter­bury, prop JP Koen, lock Luke Brice and He­mopo played well, while Leati­gago 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 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 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.

For Horowhenua Kapiti, prop Ti­wana Paringatai had an ex­cel­lent game while cap­tain Ryan Shelford made his usual im­pact.

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.

It was Wis­newski’s 50m-plus in­ter­cept try that sunk Buller mid­way through the sec­ond half, af­ter which they strug­gled to have any real im­pact.

The game was held up for 70 min­utes af­ter Thames Val­ley prop Hay­den An­der­son broke his leg just af­ter the start.

North Otago and Mid Can­ter­bury both kept their Meads Cup semi­fi­nal hopes alive with con­trast­ing wins.

The OId Golds edged out fastfin­ish­ing 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.

For Mid Can­ter­bury, Wil­lie McGoon and for­mer All Black Re­gan King scored two tries each.

In the bat­tle for the wooden spoon, Poverty Bay proved too good for East Coast, scor­ing five tries in win­ning 35-15 in Gis­borne.

PHOTO: JOHN BISSET/STUFF

South Can­ter­bury wing Kalavini Leati­gago scores a bril­liant in­di­vid­ual try against Wan­ganui as his side up­set the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons.

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