Buller announced themselves as the team to beat in this season’s Heartland Championship rugby competition with a come from behind 19-10 win over South Canterbury in Westport today.
Buller trailed 10-3 at halftime but rallied in the second 40, scoring 16 unanswered points to leapfrog South Canterbury into top spot on the competition ladder.
In other South Island results; Horowhenua-Kapiti raced out to an early 16-3 lead over West Coast in Greymouth but had to resist a stirring fightback from the hosts to cling on 19-17.
Mid Canterbury piled on late points to brush aside Wanganui 30-14 in Ashburton, while King Country scored a late try to steal a 17-14 win over North Otago in Oamaru.
South Canterbury coach Chester Scott said his team was outplayed by a much better Buller side.
Despite an early try to halfback Sekope Maea, South Canterbury made errors at crucial times as Buller No 10 James Lash dictated territory with a strong general kicking game with the wind at his back in the second half.
Buller co-coach Craig Scanlon said his team dominated territory and possession and only some poor decision making let them down prior to halftime.
He said he was pleased his team proved why they have the best defensive record in the competition, praising veteran openside Luke Brownlee’s performance at ruck time.
Horowhenua-Kapiti coach Jared Tanira said with a strong wind at their backs in the first half dictating the style of game against the West Coast, he was pleased his team treasured possession and did the basics accurately to earn an early advantage.
”Perry Hayman, our kicker, was able to convert some early penalties that got us out in front.
”There were just a few lapses in concentration late that almost cost us.”
He said No 8 Lennon Carrington was dynamic around the field.
West Coast coach Allan Lindsay said his team put in an improved performance overall but losing four lineouts on their own throw in the second half cost them momentum when they had the wind advantage.
He said fullback Josh Costello was strong on both attack and defence all game.
Wanganui coach Jason Caskey said his team played enough decent rugby against Mid Canterbury but had been ”half arsed” in their preparation.
”We sat around in a hotel room for two hours prior to the game so they had plenty of time to get ready but when it was time to warm up we still had three guys in the sheds getting strapping sorted.”
JACOB PAGE – The Timaru Herald