North Otago moved three points clear in the Mitre 10 Heartland competition this week when goal-kicker Robbie Smith landed a last-second penalty goal to beat Thames Valley 22-21 in Oamaru on Saturday.
With previous unbeaten West Coast going down to a Wanganui side 18-36 for its first win over the season, North Otago was left on 16 points with Buller and West Coast on 13 points, with Wairarapa Bush and South Canterbury another point back on 12.
Thames Valley scored three tries to North Otago’s one, but two of the tries were the result of charge downs of attempted North Otago clearing kicks.
Heading into the last five minutes of the game North Otago camped between Thames Valley’s 10m line and 22m line eventually winning a chance to kick a penalty goal, his fifth of the game in a 17-point haul for Smith.
Mid Canterbury and South Canterbury played out a 13-13 draw in Ashburton while Buller travelled to Levin to beat Horowhenua Kapiti 46-31.
East Coast 12 (Zac Guildford try; penalty try)
King Country 27 (Jana Ihaka, Alefosio Tapili, Dirk Barnes tries; Evaan Reihana 3 con, 2 pen)
Horowhenua Kapiti 31 (Scorers not provided)
Buller 46 (Daniel Hytongue, Iliesa Ravudra 2, Robbie Malneek, Petaia Saukuru, Mitieli Kalodigibeci, Jeff Lepa tries; James Lash 4 con, pen)
Mid Canterbury 13 (Jon Dampney try; Corey McKay con, 2 pen)
South Canterbury 13 (Nick Strachan try; Willie Wright con, 2 pen)
North Otago 22 (Sam Sturgess try; Robbie Smith con, 5 pen)
Thames Valley 21 (Danny Kayes, Reece Broughton 2; Broughton 3 con)
Wairarapa Bush 36 (Brendon Campbell, Kirk Tufuga, Ueta Tufuga 2, Tipene Haira tries; Tim Priest 4 con, pen)
Poverty Bay 31 (Ethan Reeves, Rikki Terekia, Beaudein Waaka, Matt Rowley tries; Andrew Tauatevalu 2 con; Kelvin Smith con, pen; Waaka con)
Wanganui 36 (Tyler Rogers-Holden, Raymond Salu, Kamipeli Latu, Lindsay Horrocks, Peni Nabainivalu tries; Dane Whale 4 con, pen)
West Coast 18 (Brad Tauwhare, Sam Liebezeit, tries; Sean McClure con, 2 pen)