Meads Cup semifinal places on the line in final round

South Canterbury coach Barry Matthews can breath easy with one round left in the Heartland Championship having already ...
Martin Hunter

South Canterbury coach Barry Matthews can breath easy with one round left in the Heartland Championship having already qualified for a home semi in the Meads Cup.

South Canterbury are shoo-in to finish top of the Heartland Championships but will have to wait until Saturday to see who their opponent will be in the in their semifinal.

A trip Ruatoria to face winless East Coast is the final game of the round robin for South Canterbury, so five points seem assured.

South Canterbury has only dropped their opening encounter of the championship, a 27-24 loss to Buller in Westport.

Mid Canterbury's Maleli Sau hat trick against Buller sent him to the top of try scoring charts in the Heartland ...
Kai Schwoerer

Mid Canterbury's Maleli Sau hat trick against Buller sent him to the top of try scoring charts in the Heartland Championship with 10.

The 'green and blacks' have already confirmed in the top two but their opponents could be one of four teams, with the finishing order behind them yet to be decided.

There are several scenarios with only six points covering second to fifth and the main contenders all playing each other. 

Second placed Horowhenua Kapiti travel to Westport to take on third placed Buller and the winner will finish second and the loser could drop to fourth.

South Canterbury wing Kalavini Leatigago sits second on Heartland Championship try scoring table.
JOHN BISSET

South Canterbury wing Kalavini Leatigago sits second on Heartland Championship try scoring table.

Fourth placed North Otago face defending champions Wanganui, who are fifth, at Cooks Garden, in what is effectively a quarterfinal.

Mid Canterbury also have a slim chance but have to win with a bonus point and hope Wanganui are also victorious without getting any.

That would leave them tied on 26 points and the Hammers would advance at the Butcher Boys expense by virtue of their 40-39 win in pool play.

Buller and Horowhenua Kapiti, like South Canterbury, have won six of their seven games with the bonus points being the difference.

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South Canterbury have scored a four-try bonus point in six of their games and grabbed their seventh bonus point in the three point loss to Buller.

North Otago and Wanganui have won four each but the Old Golds have also scored four tries in five games to give them the advantage.

At the end of the round robin if teams are tied the finishing position is decided on who beat who first, then points differential.

South Canterbury coach Barry Matthews is not too concerned who their opponent will be.

"I can't pick it. Usually I would be reviewing videos but with four teams it was just too much, it would give you a headache.

"There are too many permutations and combinations."

Matthews said he would prefer not to draw Wanganui.

"It's their experience really, they have been in Meads Cup finals so many times, they know what it is about.

"North Otago are a good chance of winning up there, like I said they are hard to pick."

Matthews said it had the closest Heartland Championship so far.

"There were only nine points on Saturday between the top side and the 11th placed team. That goes to show how tight it is.

"It has been a great comp."

In the Lochore Cup (for fifth to eighth) Mid Canterbury and West Coast look set to make it through along with the side that drops out of the Meads Cup contest.

The last spot in the semi-finals looks set to got down to the winner of the Thames Valley- Poverty Bay clash in Paeroa.

South Canterbury's try scoring antics have seen several players sit high on the Heartland try scoring list behind Mid Canterbury's Maleli Sau, who tops it with 10.

Wing Kalavini Leatigago has seven to sit second while halfback Willie Wright is third-equal, with King Country's outside back Dean Church on six.

No.8 Brad Hemopo and second five Vatiliai Tora have five each.

With East Coast left to play, who on average have lost by 44 points, several South Canterbury players could add to their tallies.

Championship points: South Canterbury 31, Horowhenua Kapitu 28, Buller 27, North Otago 24, Wanganui 22, Mid Canterbury 21, West Coast 20, Thames Valley 18, Poverty Bay 15, King Country 9, Wairarapa Bush 9, East Coast 0.  

  

   

 - Stuff

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