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2010 Lochore and Mead Cups finals wrap

Sunday, October 31, 2010    NZPA    

Last year's Lochore Cup holders, North Otago ended Wanganui's two-year Meads Cup with a comprehensive 39-18 win in the final at Oamaru.

At Wesport Buller who were making their first appearance in the final were unable to use home ground advantage at Westport and fell 9-15 to Wairarapa Bush.

Table topping North Otago more than lived up to their favourites tag with a six tries to two victory over a Wanganui team seeking a Meads Cup three-peat.

The home team did the hard work playing into a strong wind in the first half, capitalising on their opportunities while turning over Wanganui ball at crucial times to score three tries and lead 17-13 at halftime, despite struggling for territory.

They eased away with the wind in the second half though Wanganui threw everything at them in the final 10 minutes and they scored through impressive wing Cameron Crowley, which drew them to within nine points.

But wing Greg Zampach replied with a tidy finish in the corner after some quick hands from the backs to seal the match for North Otago, and fittingly captain Luke Herden iced the cake with an intercept try in the last minute, his 12th try of the season.

Veteran flanker Ross Hay kicked the final conversion, perhaps a sign his 126th match for the province will be his last.

Barnstorming No 8 Tevita Fifita was outstanding for the victors and led a spirited and cohesive forward effort, which was the key to the province's first Meads Cup title since 2007.

It also capped off a remarkable turnaround from last year, when they missed the cut for the Meads Cup.

Wairarapa Bush, winners of the inaugural Meads Cup in 2006, added the Lochore Cup, named after Wairarapa rugby great Sir Brian Lochore, to their trophy cabinet after playing a canny game against Buller.

It was an evenly-contested match between two similar sides but it was Wairarapa Bush who made their forays into their opposition's half count.

First five-eighth Jeremy Te Huia was a key figure in the match, running his backline efficiently and making a few bold runs himself.

Captain and hooker Joe Harwood, lock Brandon Young and No 8 Mana Faraimo were outstanding in the Wairarapa Bush forwards while second five Byron Karaitiana helped Te Huia marshall their backline play.

But it was the accuracy of Te Huia's kicking boot that separated the sides as he kicked four penalties to Buller's three by halfback Andrew Stephens.

The sides could not be separated at halftime with Te Huia and Stephens each potting a couple as the battle for territory was mostly kept in the middle with any dangerous forays quickly snuffed out by both defences.

Two Te Huia penalties early in the second half had Buller quickly on the backfoot and chasing the game.

Karaitiana poached a dropped goal midway through the half which stretched the lead out to 15-6.

Buller made a desperate bid to save the game in the dying minutes but were rewarded with just another penalty to Stephens as the Wairarapa Bush defence proved unbreachable despite playing without winger Junior Togia who was sin binned for a high tackle.

Results of the two Heartland Championship rugby finals yesterday:-

MEADS CUP FINAL

At Oamaru: North Otago 39 (Kilifi Fangupo, Lemi Masoe, Stuart Philpott, Palanapa Mafi, Greg Zampach, Luke Herden tries; Ben Patston pen, 2 con; Ross Hay con) Wanganui 18 (Ace Malo, Cameron Crowley tries; Mark Davis 2 pen, con). Halftime: 17-13.

LOCHORE CUP FINAL

At Westport: Wairarapa Bush 15 (Jeremy Te Huia 4 pen, Byron Karaitiana dropped goal) Buller 9 (Andrew Stephens 3 pen). Halftime: 6-6.

Semi final results:

MEADS CUP
North Otago 40 (Lemi Masoe 2, Faaitu Tuamoheloa, Luke Hernden 2 tries; Ben Patston 3 con, 3 pen) Mid Canterbury 24 (Chris Crichton 2, David Maw tries; Maw 3 con, pen). HT: 11-7

Wanganui 31 (Ace Malo 2, Cole Baldwin, Sheldon O'Hagan tries; Mark Davis con, 3 pen) Poverty Bay 24 (Whaimotu Craft-Chemis, Tom Teaeki, Kahu Tamatea tries; Tamatea 3 con, pen). HT: 14-10.

LOCHORE CUP

Horowhenua 14 (Anthony Fox try; Josh Hamilton 2 pen, dropped goal) Buller 19 (Penijamini Naibainivalu, Sam Marris tries; Andrew Stephens 3 pen). HT: 14-9.

King Country 17 (Tanner Vili, Lolohea Loco tries; Vili 2 con, pen) Wairarapa Bush 21 (Byron Karatiana 2, Mana Faraimo tries; Jeremy Te Huia 3 con). HT: 14-14.