News

Whanganui’s hard run through second half of Heartland

By Jared Smith (Photos by Merrilyn George. )

It’s a strange thing to win a Bunnings Heartland Championship game with a bonus point and big differential, and yet still fall out of the top 4.

Having completed what was originally supposed to be the second half of the 2021 round robin, but after Covid-delays became the first, Whanganui must now play virtually quarter-final level rugby in their last four games if they hope to make the Meads Cup final on November 13.

In order, they will face the teams that are currently third, first, sixth and second on the table.

On Saturday, Whanganui’s bonus-point win was matched by Mid Canterbury, who played an early evening fixture in Masterton and came back in the second half for a 28-18 win over Wairarapa Bush.

Because Whanganui and Mid Canterbury had been part of a four-way tie for fourth spot last week, Whanganui’s points differential gave them preference, but now with just two, the Cantabrians hold the place due to winning the September 25 game between the sides.

The other two teams, North Otago and Poverty Bay, played out an extremely tight match in Oamaru, with the home side surviving 12-10.

All the other favourites picked up victories on Saturday, although each of the games were competitive.

South Canterbury continues to head the table after travelling up to Ruatoria and pulling away in the second half for a 34-12 win.

Likewise undefeated, Thames Valley made the long trip to the South Island and came away with a tight 27-8 win over West Coast in Greymouth – missing a bonus point to let South Canterbury take the outright lead.

Also travelling south was Whanganui’s upcoming opponent Horowhenua-Kapiti, who kept their unbeaten streak intact with a 27-12 win over Buller in Westport.

Both sides scored two tries, but again the goal kicking of Jack Tatu-Robinson was crucial, which Whanganui must be wary of before defending the Bruce Steel Memorial Cup on Saturday.

Round 4 results, October 10

Horowhenua Kapiti 27 (Daniel Smith, Bryn Gordon tries; Jack Tatu-Robinson 5 pen, con)
bt Buller 12 (Erenimo Tau, Mitieli Kaludigibeci tries; Jesse Pitman Joass con). HT: 16-0.

South Canterbury 34 (James Hawkey, Junio Faavae, John Borland, Vaka Taelaga, Zack Saunders, Siu Kakala tries; Sam Briggs 2 con)
bt East Coast 12 (Tawhao Stewart, Te Wehi Wright tries; Te Rangi Fraser con) HT: 12-5.

North Otago 12 (Charles Elton, Tony Taufa tries; Josh Phipps con)
bt Poverty Bay 10 (Jarryd Broughton try; Andrew Tauatevalu pen, con). HT: 7-3.

Thames Valley 27 (Ben Bonnar, Fred Kei, Will Newbold tries; Carlos Price 2 pen, 3 con)
bt West Coast 8 (Troy Tauwhare try; Sean McClure pen) HT: 13-3.

Mid Canterbury 28 (Manasa Bari, Tom Reekie, Raitube Vasurakuta, Seta Koroitamana tries; Reekie 2 pen, con)
bt Wairarapa Bush 18 (Lewis Bush, Ueta Tufuga tries; Moomoo Falaniko 2 pen, con) HT: 15-7 Wairarapa Bush.

Whanganui 48 (Peceli Malanicagi, Semi Vodosese, Kieran Hussey, Dane Whale, Aleksio Vakarorogo, Kameli Kuruyabaki, Timoci Serewalu tries; Ethan Robinson pen, 3 con, Dane Whale 2 con)
bt King Country 13 (Bradly Jeffries try; Sio Tapili 2 pen, con). HT: 15-6.

2021 Heartland Championship Table
Pos.#
Team
P
W
L
D
Bpts
F
A
+/-
Pts
1
South Canterbury
6
6
0
0
6
276
83
+193
30
2
Thames Valley
6
6
0
0
4
214
98
+116
28
3
Steelform Whanganui
6
4
2
0
4
206
110
+96
20
4
North Otago
6
4
2
0
4
172
148
+24
20
5
Mid Canterbury
6
4
2
0
4
182
163
+19
20
6
Horowhenua-Kapiti
6
4
2
0
3
144
149
-05
18
7
Poverty Bay
6
3
3
0
5
201
159
+42
17
8
West Coast
6
2
4
0
5
140
159
-19
12
9
Ngāti Porou East Coast
6
1
5
0
6
177
211
-34
10
10
Wairarapa Bush
6
2
4
0
2
106
183
-77
10
11
Buller
6
0
6
0
2
109
276
-167
02
12
King Country
6
0
6
0
1
93
281
-188
01
*TIEBREAKERS:
1. Head to head result.
2. Points differential.
3. Tries scored.
4. Points scored.
5. Coin toss.