Heartland Championship preview: round four

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Friday, September 14, 2018    Campbell Burnes    Getty Images

King Country defeated North Otago 22-18 in Taumarunui, the first time they had played in the town in some 13 years, in what was an emotional homecoming for Rams captain Carl Carmichael.

The clash in Te Aroha pits them against an in-form Thames Valley Swamp Foxes, who were expansive and effective in beating Buller 43-25 in Westport last weekend.

The match is also notable for the fact that the referee will be Rebecca Mahoney, New Zealand’s top women’s whistler, who will be breaking new ground as the first woman to control a men’s first-class fixture in the nation’s history.


West Coast will be favoured to beat Poverty Bay in Greymouth. The Coasters kicked a late penalty goal via Tom Reekie, to secure what could be a critical bonus point in the 36-29 loss to Mid Canterbury. Things are not looking so flash for Poverty Bay, dusted 53-0 by Wanganui for its second straight defeat.

Wairarapa-Bush will host Buller, buoyed by the breaking of a five-match losing streak in beating East Coast 29-5.

Winless Buller will be desperate to record a W after losing heavily at home to Thames Valley. Robbie Malneek remains at No 10 in place of the injured James Lash.

The Old Golds of North Otago will be anxious to bounce swiftly back into winning ways after a tight defeat to King Country, so they will look to their seasoned campaigners such as Ralph Darling to take down a Horowhenua Kapiti outfit that leaked 52 points against South Canterbury in the capital last Sunday.
Wanganui is coming off a 53-0 win over Poverty Bay and will fancy its chances of staying unbeaten as the Butcher Boys return to Cooks Gardens. The Hammers, however, are in good form, despite a one-point loss to North Otago. Seta Koroitama’s double and Jarred Percival’s control helped them edge a committed West Coast in Ashburton.

South Canterbury gave a terrific eight-try televised exhibition of heartland rugby in dispatching Horowhenua Kapiti and will be favoured for more of the same in Timaru against Ngati Porou East Coast.

The match-ups:

Thames Valley v King Country

Saturday September 15, 2pm at Boyd Park, Te Aroha
Referee: Rebecca Mahoney (Wairarapa-Bush)
Played: 83 (1925-2017)
Wins: King Country 50, Thames Valley 29, Drawn 4
Last match: Thames Valley 45 King Country 36 (September 23, 2017)

West Coast v Poverty Bay
Saturday September 15, 2.30pm at Rugby Park, Greymouth
Referee: Mike Lash (Tasman)
Played: 23 (1974-2017)
Wins: Poverty Bay 20, West Coast 3
Last match: Poverty Bay 36 West Coast 19 (September 23, 2017)

Wairarapa-Bush v Buller
Saturday September 15, 2.30pm at Trust House Memorial Park, Masterton
Referee: Tasuku Kawahara (Japan)
Played: 21 (1975-2017)
Wins: Wairarapa-Bush 13, Buller 8
Last match: Buller 29 Wairarapa-Bush 24 (September 23, 2017)

North Otago v Horowhenua Kapiti
Saturday September 15, 2.30pm at Whitestone Contracting Stadium, Oamaru
Referee: James Doleman (Otago)
Played: 32 (1955-2017)
Wins: Horowhenua Kapiti 17, North Otago 14, Drawn 1
Last match: Horowhenua Kapiti 22 North Otago 19 (August 26, 2017)

Wanganui v Mid Canterbury
Saturday September 15, 2.30pm at Cooks Gardens, Whanganui
Referee: Cam Stone (Taranaki)
Played: 34 (1939-2017)
Wins: Wanganui 20, Mid Canterbury 14
Last match: Mid Canterbury 40 Wanganui 39 (September 23, 2017)

South Canterbury v East Coast
Saturday September 15, 2.30pm at Alpine Energy Stadium, Timaru
Referee: Tipene Cottrell (Hawke’s Bay)
Played: 15 (1986-2017)
Wins: South Canterbury 12, East Coast 3
Last match: South Canterbury 45 East Coast 7 (October 14, 2017)