Steelform Wanganui’s next opponent, Mid Canterbury, got off to the perfect start in their quest to win a record third-straight Meads Cup title with a 34-17 victory over South Canterbury in the derby game in Ashburton on Saturday.
Former Chiefs player Murray Williams, who scored 20 points with kicks when his team beat Wanganui 30-14 last year, was again in form with a try and nine points from the boot.
The win highlighted an opening round of the Pink Batts Heartland Championship where most of the status quo from 2014 was maintained.
Buller, unbeaten last year until losing to Mid Canterbury in the final, held off the visiting King Country 32-20 in Westport, thanks to boot of Hagen Schulte with a 22-point haul.
Poverty Bay ran rampant against East Coast with a 60-15 thrashing in Ruatoria, as Leigh Bristowe scored a hat-trick and Carl Riini picked up a double.Wairarapa-Bush signalled early signs of a strong campaign as they travelled to Paeroa to beat Thames Valley 36-9.
And goal kicking was also the difference in Oamaru as North Otago barely held off West Coast 17-16, with a Ben Palmer penalty their only points of the second half.
Wairarapa Bush 36 (James Goodger 2, Nick Olsen, Inia Katia tries; Tim Priest 2 con, 4 pen)
Thames Valley 9 (J Te Ruki 3 pen).
Buller 32 (Mitieli Kaloudigibeci, Penijamini Nabainivalu tries; Hagen Schulte 2 con, 5 pen, dg)
King Country 20 (Steve Te Moananui, Turanga King, Iliesa Tuvayra tries; Te Hata Wilbore con, pen).
HT: 20-13 King Country.
Mid Canterbury 34 (Ashton Tuck 2, Murray Williams, Mavae Tomasi, Ewan Scott tries; Williams 3 con, pen)
South Canterbury 17 (Kieran Coll, Matthew Kottier tries; Jason Merrett 2 con, pen).
Poverty Bay 60 (Leigh Bristowe 3, Carl Riini 2, Kerehama Barrett, Jake Parangatai, Tamati Samuels, Te Peehi Fairlee tries; Kahu Tamatea 6 con, pen)
East Coast 15 Sam Parkes, Donny Mill, Kris Palmer , tries)
North Otago 17 (Sala Halaleva try; Ben Palmer 4 pen)
West Coast 16 (Andrew Connors, Hugo Torres tries; Torres pen, Nik Cumming pen)
By Jared Smith – Wanganui Chronicle