An impressive display by the visiting South Canterbury team earned them a 62-16 win over Thames Valley at the Paeroa Domain last Saturday. The round five Mitre 10 Heartland championship game got off to a bruising start as South Canterbury came up against a vigorous defensive effort from the home team but it didn’t take long to find a way through and the green and blacks were on the board in less than five minutes.
To their credit, Thames Valley fought back and scored tries through Hayden Wisnewski and Ben Bonner, both of which were converted by Moss Doran and at the halftime break they only trailed by 28-16 and were unlucky not to be closer on the scoreboard.
The half time talk from the Green and Black’s coach, Barry Matthews, must have been a beauty as the visitors came out firing in the second half and removed any doubt as to the outcome of the game by piling on 34 unanswered points, totally dominating the second forty minutes in a commanding performance. Loan winger Kalavini Leatigaga had a great debut, scoring two tries while centre Cam Bailey also grabbed a double. Loose forwards Hamish Strachan and Matthew Etheredge also scored as did captain Kieran Coll.
The results leaves South Canterbury in second place just two points adrift of defending champions Wanganui, with Buller just one point behind in third. Thames Valley remains well ensconced in the bottom third of the table stuck on five points along with West Coast with only East Coast beneath them.
Front runners Wanganui kept up their unbeaten run with a seven tries to four victory over Poverty Bay in Gisborne and face Thames Valley in Wanganui next weekend. Buller holds onto third place after beating East Coast 54-22 in Westport. Mid Canterbury had to overcome a half time deficit and rely on a last minute length of the field try to steal a win against a gutsy West Coast side in Ashburton. Wairarapa Bush jumped up to fourth place with a 38-22 win over North Otago that drops the Old Golds down to seventh. King Country kept their top four hopes alive with a 42-18 win over Horowhenua Kapiti in Levin.