South Can­ter­bury up­set cham­pi­ons

The Southland Times - - SPORT - STU PIDDINGTON

A long-range Savea try from a Jack­son Gar­den-Ba­chop in­ter­cept, then a stun­ner from hooker-of-the­mo­ment Asafo Au­mua, saw Welling­ton lead 17-7 at half­time be­fore two charge­down tries saw them bolt to a 31-7 lead with 30 min­utes left to play.

While his side were at times lack­ing di­rec­tion in their lat­est con­test, they man­aged to march on to a fourth win from five starts, se­cure a bonus point, and sit third on the premier­ship lad­der.

One point ahead of the Naki are the five-from-five North Har­bour, who got out of jail for a 31-22 win over North­land in Whangarei on Thurs­day night.

Har­bour had been well be­low what they had showed prior in this cam­paign, but, even af­ter trail­ing 22-17 with seven min­utes to play, man­aged to keep their un­beaten start to the sea­son in­tact, as Ben Volavola sliced through, then Matt Vaega plucked an in­ter­cept for a 40-me­tre run­away.

Waikato are next to chal­lenge Can­ter­bury for the shield but their form has tailed off big time af­ter los­ing a third straight game - 23-10 to cham­pi­onship side Manawatu in Hamil­ton on Satur­day.

The Mooloos led 10-3 near­ing the hour-mark, but a try off the back of a pow­er­ful scrum from Hamish Brewer - son of former All Black Mike - then the boot of Jade Te Rure guided the Tur­bos to vic­tory, and into fourth spot on the cham­pi­onship lad­der.

Waikato, hav­ing played one more game than the three teams above them, now sit fifth in the premier­ship, and even Auck­land are only now three points back, af­ter they notched just their sec­ond win from six starts in a 27-17 re­sult over South­land in In­ver­cargill on Fri­day night.

The hosts opened the scor­ing af­ter just three min­utes, but they re­main the only win­less team in the com­pe­ti­tion - rooted to the bot­tom of the cham­pi­onship lad­der on zero points - as All Blacks flanker Jerome Kaino got the vis­i­tors’ ac­count started, with Auck­land go­ing on to col­lect the bonus point.

Tas­man climbed into fourth spot on the premier­ship lad­der af­ter hold­ing on for a dra­matic 29-27 win over Otago in Dunedin on Satur­day.

The Makos were up 29-13 early in the sec­ond spell thanks to ref­eree Mike Fraser award­ing a penalty try and sin­bin­ning Otago first five-eighth Josh Ioane for an in­ten­tional knock-down.

In the early game yes­ter­day, Coun­ties Manukau re­bounded from their mid­week thrash­ing in the shield chal­lange to score five tries, in­clud­ing a Tim NanaiWil­liams dou­ble, to beat strug­gling Hawke’s Bay 33-14. 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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