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News & Editorials
Wanganui’s difficult trip to third-placed Buller today ended in triumph and a 28-0 victory, Wthe River City remaining unbeaten in the Heartland Rugby Championship. David Ogilvie reports:
Wanganui kept a strong grip on first place in the Heartland Rugby Championship round-robin with a clinical effort in the wet in Westport today.
Now only next Saturday’s home match with Horowhenua-Kapiti stands in the way of a home semi/final (if the semi is won).
Today’s victories by South Canterbury and Mid Canterbury ensured they stayed in the hunt, but Gavin Thornbury’s 80th minute try was vital for Wanganui in that it ensured a bonus point will not be necessary to stay alone at the top of the ladder if the H/K match is won.
Today’s victory, against the third-placed Buller side on their home ground, was noteworthy in that ccthe two power bases of this year’s success were paramount again - powerful, accurate defence and a tight five that refused to give an inch against a good opposition.
Buller played with a stern first half wind and spent much time on attack, but Wanganui held them out and broke free to produce tries to Taranaki loan player Blake Hohaia and busy No 8 Malkai Volau.
The score stayed the same through the rest of the first half and much of the second (when the wind dropped and Wanganui’s advantage was therefore nullified), before replacement looie Jaimie Hughes scored and then Thornbury did his usual party trick and crossed for the bonus point try.
Front rowers Tietie Tuimaunga, Viki Tofa and Roman Tutauha rolled up their sleeves for a heavy afternoon’s work, locks Thornbury and Campbell Hart were great, and loosies Volau, Pter Rowe and Bryn Hudson were strong.
Previously injured Craig Clare returned to take the first-five berth to run the ship well.
There were no clear injury worries, so Wanganui goes into the final week of round-robin in very, very good shape.
Wanganui 28 (Malki Volau, Blake Hohaia, Gavin Thornbury, Jaimie Hughes tries; Craig Clare 2con) bt Buller 0. HT: Wanganui 14-0.
King Country 72 East Coast 24, Horowhenua-Kapiti 52 West Coast 22, Mid Canterbury 38 Thames Valley 22, South Canterbury 44 Nrth Otago 16, Wai-Bush 32 Poverty Bay 30.
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