Sth Canty stun Wan­ganui

The Timaru Herald - - SPORT - STU PIDDINGTON

It wasn’t pretty but it didn’t mat­ter as South Can­ter­bury stunned Wan­ganui to go on top of the Heart­land Cham­pi­onship.

Af­ter South Can­ter­bury strug­gled in the first half no-one in the stands was count­ing on a late come­back to steal the win over the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons.

A bril­liant in­di­vid­ual try from wing Kalavini Leati­gago sparked South Can­ter­bury into life and No.8 Brad He­mopo sealed the win with five min­utes left in the game.

Wan­ganui are mea­sur­ing stick when it comes to the Heart­land Cham­pi­onships, reg­u­larly in the Meads Cup fi­nal and five times cham­pi­ons.

The win was only South Can­ter­bury’s sec­ond over the ‘Butcher Boys’ in 12 years and de­lighted coach Barry Matthews.

‘‘It was a huge win, I’m rapt. It means we are back in the run­ning for a spot in the semis.’’

Matthews said how­ever there was still plenty to do.

‘‘It wasn’t per­fect but you have to be happy any time you take the points off Wan­ganui.’’

South Can­ter­bury also ran in three tries to one and kept Wan­ganui’s sec­ond half points to a sin­gle penalty, in a game that had the in­ten­sity of a fi­nal.

Wan­ganui coach Ja­son Caskey rued his side’s ill dis­ci­pline, es­pe­cially on at­tack.

‘‘Our goal is to give away no more than 10 penal­ties in a game and we did that in the first half. We started the sea­son well putting 79 points on Wairarapa but since then have mis­fired and stut­tered.’’

Caskey said their were no excuses and South Can­ter­bury did enough to win.

‘‘It was a good day and a good track, we got into a good po­si­tion but couldn’t fin­ish it off.’’

South Can­ter­bury had to make one late change be­fore kick off with cap­tain Kieran Coll miss­ing the game as he awaited the birth of his sec­ond child, with BJ Oliver tak­ing his place on the blind­side and Nick Stra­chan tak­ing over the cap­taincy.

With a strong easterly at their backs Wan­ganui got a away to very good start with an early penalty to first five Craig Clare. With 13 min­utes gone sec­ond five Ti­moci Seruwalu proved too strong close to the line and scored, then Clare added an­other penalty to be up 11-0, as South Can­ter­bury were starved of the ball.

It took un­til the 32nd minute for South Can­ter­bury to have a chance and they made the most, with hooker Marac Beck­ham driv­ing over, and Wil­lie Wright adding the con­ver­sion.

Wan­ganui had the fi­nal say of the half with with an­other Clare penalty and de­spite their dom­i­nance and the wind Wan­ganui were only up 14-7.

The vis­i­tors again tested South Can­ter­bury ear­lier in the sec­ond half but some su­perb de­fence meant they only gave up a penalty. Mid­way through the half Wan­ganui still looked com­fort­able as both sides rolled on their sub­sti­tutes.

Leati­gago then came up with a piece of magic when he beat his man on the out­side and carved his way in­field, beat­ing the full­back to score un­der the posts and South Can­ter­bury were sud­denly only three points be­hind.

With six min­utes left South Can­ter­bury turned down the op­por­tu­nity to kick for goal, for a draw, and it paid a big div­i­dend when He­mopo came off the back of a 5m scrum and proved un­stop­pable close to the line, to steal an un­likely win. For South Can­ter­bury JP Koen, Luke Brice and He­mopo im­pressed in the for­wards while half­back Wil­lie Wright did well un­der pres­sure.

First five Miles Medli­cott had some nice touches while out­side him Vatil­iai Tora kept Wan­ganui’s dan­ger­man Ser­walu un­der warps.

Wan­ganui’s best were lock Sokon­aia Kalou, who caused headaches on the South Can­ter­bury throw, No.8 Bryn Hud­son and first five Craig Clare.

The good news for South Can­ter­bury is there is still plenty of room for improvement de­spite sit­ting at the top of the ta­ble two points clear.

South Can­ter­bury scored three tries against Wan­ganui in Ti­maru on Satur­day, in­clud­ing ones by Kalavini Leati­gago and Brad He­mopo in their 21-17 vic­tory.

PHOTOS: JOHN BISSET/STUFF

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