With just two rounds of the Heartland Championship remaining, South Canterbury and Buller are rated as the South Island's best chances of qualifying for the Meads Cup semifinals.
North Otago can also make the top section of the championship but they would require some maneuvering among the competition leaders, in addition to wins against Wairarapa Bush and Thames Valley, to keep their playoff chances alive.
On current form Wanganui, Wairarapa Bush, South Canterbury, East Coast and Buller, who are only separated by a point, are favoured to scramble for the spots reserved for the semis on October 21.
The fifth to eighth-placed teams will contest the Lochore Cup semis a day earlier.
South Canterbury, who are currently placed third, clobbered Poverty Bay 52-33 in Gisborne on Saturday for their fourth win of the season as they raced in eight tries.
Despite trailing 26-25 at halftime the green and blacks ignited their attack in the second spell and if they can bowl West Coast in Greymouth and Mid-Canterbury in Timaru over the home stretch they may do enough to secure a home semi.
Sam Vea scored two tries for South Canterbury with Kali Latu, Faiaitu Tuamoheloa, Sekope Maea, Jarrad Trevathan, Eric Smith and Liam Edwards also chipping in.
Mid-Canterbury scrambled past West Coast 29-24 and grabbed a four-try bonus point in Greymouth, while Buller breezed past Horowhenua-Kapiti 34-16 in Westport by stacking on 20 points in the second half.
Mid-Canterbury, buoyed by securing just their second win of the season, will meet Horowhenua-Kapiti in Ashburton next weekend.
Wanganui, who beat East Coast in last year's final after qualifying at the top of the regular season log, are again on target to defend their title.
Despite being upset by East Coast last weekend, they nailed North Otago 39-22 in Wanganui and remain at the head of the table.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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