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Heartland Championship Preview: Round 5

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Friday, September 22, 2017    allblacks.com    Getty Images

After stunning Wanganui last week, South Canterbury sit atop the ladder and will be hoping for win over neighbours North Canterbury in Timaru to maintain their ascendency.

Wanganui have slipped into the unfamiliar place of second on the ladder and will be looking to bounce back strong when they travel south to take on Mid Canterbury in Ashburton.

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Buller need a victory to move into Meads Cup semifinal contention but won’t find it easy against a Wairarapa Bush side bolstered by the return of former All Blacks halfback Piri Weepu.

Horowhenua Kapiti have been in imperious form this season and cannot afford any complacency when they host win-less East Coast at the Otaki Domain. A win for Horowhenua Kapiti could even see them take the lead on the Championship ladder dependant on results for Wanganui and South Canterbury.

There’s also plenty at stake when King Country and Thames Valley meet in Te Kuiti. With both teams placed in mid table, the winner will move into Meads Cup semifinals contention while the loser will most likely be left to battle it out for a spot in the Lochore Cup playoffs.

The final match of the weekend sees Poverty Bay host West Coast in Gisborne. West Coast come north as favourites but know they will have to be at their best to overcome Poverty Bay on their home track.

THE MATCH-UPS

Buller v Wairarapa Bush

Saturday 23 September, 2.30pm at Victoria Square, Westport
Played: 20 (1975-2016)
Wins: Buller 7, Wairarapa Bush 13
Last match: Buller 26 Wairarapa Bush 24 (2016)

Horowhenua Kapiti v East Coast

Saturday 23 September, 2.30pm at Otaki Domain, Otaki
Played: 39 (1951-2015)
Wins: Horowhenua Kapiti 22, East Coast 16, Draws: 1
Last match: Horowhenua Kapiti 24 East Coast 20 (2015)

King Country v Thames Valley
Saturday 23 September, 2.30pm at Rugby Park, Te Kuiti
Played: 82 (1925-2016)
Wins: King Country 50, Thames Valley 28, Draws, 4
Last match: Thames Valley 22 King Country 22 (2016)

Mid Canterbury v Wanganui
Saturday 23 September, 2.30pm at Ashburton Showground, Ashburton
Played: 33 (1939-2015)
Wins: Mid Canterbury 13, Wanganui 20
Last match: Wanganui 26 Mid Canterbury 11 (2015)

Poverty Bay v West Coast
Saturday 23 September, 2.30pm at More FM Rugby Park, Gisborne
Played: 22 (1974-2016)
Wins: Poverty Bay 19, West Coast 3
Last match: Poverty Bay 62 West Coast 28 (2016)

South Canterbury v North Otago
Saturday 23 September, 2.30pm at Alpine Energy Stadium, Timaru
Played: 134 (1927-2016)
Wins: South Canterbury 89, North Otago 40, Draws 5
Last match: South Canterbury 44 North Otago 16 (2016)