A number of upsets across the Pink Batts Heartland Championship have allowed Steelform Wanganui to stay in touch with the Top 4 as only Mid Canterbury and North Otago remain unbeaten after the second round on Saturday.
Meads Cup runnersup Buller would have had plenty of confidence for the occasion of the 50th games for Craig Moore and Paul Clarkson, but they took the Rundle Cup – New Zealand’s oldest challenge trophy – to Greymouth and promptly lost it to rivals West Coast 21-7.
West Coast, celebrating their 125th Jubilee, scored a try in each half and kicked their third penalty late in the contest.
If that was a surprise, Thames Valley going to Gisborne and racking up six tries to beat Poverty Bay 43-37 was an absolute shock, as yet another team to make the Meads Cup playoffs last year was beaten by a side who did not even make the Lochore Cup semifinals.
Up 24-15 at halftime, Thames Valley added 19 second-half points to complete the boilover.
In Heartland rugby’s first night game, at Trust House Memorial Park in Masterton, North Otago spoiled the festivities for the home team, winning 18-16.
Despite the accuracy of former West Coast player Tim Priest in getting three penalties and a conversion for Wairarapa Bush, North Otago scored two tries through Sam Sturgess and Nathan Cargo to take the historic match.
King Country held off Horowhenua-Kapiti, unlucky for the second time in two weeks, to win 34-28 in Te Kuiti.
The importance of goal kickers cannot be understated as neither team got a four-try bonus point, but the difference was Zayn Tipping’s five penalties compared to Brandyn Laursen’s three.
The one result that was expected was in Timaru as South Canterbury had no trouble with East Coast, thumping them 57-5.
West Coast 21 (Regan Stanton, Hugo Torres tries; Torres 2 pen, con, Nik Cumming pen)
Buller 7 (Hagan Schulte try, con)
Poverty Bay 37 (Jake Paringitai, Leigh Bristowe, Carl Riini, Ken Houkamau, Tamati Samuels, Suia Moala tries; Kahu Tamatea pen, 2 con)
Thames Valley 43 (N Talemaitoga 2, C Bunce, H Wisnewski, M Doran, J Murray tries; J TeRuki 3 pen, David Harrison 2 con)
Wanganui 28 (Michael Nabuliwaqa, Lindsay Horrocks, Kamipeli Latu tries; Trinity Spooner-Neera 3 pen, 2 con)
Mid Canterbury 30 (Nete Caucau 2, Murray Williams tries; Williams 3 pen, Ewen Scott 2 con, Matt Thatcher con)
King Country 34 (Sean Wanden, Sam Mason, Iliesa Ratuva tries; Zayn Tipping 5 pen, 2 con)
Horowhenua Kapiti 28 (Jim Morgan, Teegan Minkley, Michael Tambour tries; Brandyn Laursen 3 pen, 2 con). HT: 23-19.
South Canterbury 57 (Erenimo Tau 3, Rupeni Cokonasiga 2, Paula Fifita 2, Tafa Timaru, Sione Vea tries; Jason Merrett 6 con)
East Coast 5 (Kris Palmer try)
Wairarapa Bush 16 (Kurt Simmonds try; Tim Priest 3 pen con)
North Otago 18 (Sam Sturgess, Nathan Cargo tries; Ben Palmer 2 pen, con)
By Jared Smith – Wanganui Chronicle