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Heartland Championship Preview: Round 4

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Friday, September 15, 2017    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Although unbeaten this year, reigning Meads Cup champions Wanganui have been pushed hard in the opening rounds and will be looking to reaffirm their favourite’s status when they take on fourth-placed South Canterbury in Timaru.

It will be a rematch of last year’s Lochore Cup final in Oamaru when North Otago and King Country clash. Both teams are poisitioned in mid-table but King Country will need a big turnaround from their 44-22 loss to North Otago last year to come out on top.

QUICK TAP: CONTEST TIGHTENS AT TOP OF HEARTLAND LADDER

Two winless teams clash in Gisborne when East Coast hosts Poverty Bay. Neither team has a competition point in 2017 and will be desperate to kick start their season with a victory.

Buller have made an impressive start to the season and will be hoping it continues when they travel north to take on Thames Valley in Paeroa. The Swamp Foxes sit just outside the top four and will provide a stern challenge for Buller.

Wairarapa Bush and Mid Canterbury will both be disappointed to sit in the bottom half of the standings. But one team will have a chance to leap into Meads Cup semifinal contention when they square off in Masterton.

Finally, second-placed Horowhenua Kapiti travel south to take on West Coast in Greymouth. A victory for Horowhenua Kapiti will entrench their spot in the top four while West Coast will be left with a tough run to make the Meads Cup semifinals.

THE MATCH-UPS

North Otago v King Country

Saturday 16 September, 2pm at Whitestone Contracting Stadium, Oamaru
Played: 13 (1966-2016)
Wins: North Otago 7, King Country 5, Draws 1
Last match: North Otago 44, King Country 22 (2016)

Poverty Bay v East Coast
Saturday 16 September, 2.30pm at More FM Rugby Park, Gisborne
Played: 162 (1923-2017)
Wins: Poverty Bay 117, East Coast 40, Draws: 5
Last match: East Coast 38, Poverty Bay 23

South Canterbury v Wanganui

Saturday 16 September, 2.30pm at Alpine Energy Stadium, Timaru
Played: 37 (1894-2016)
Wins: South Canterbury 11, Wanganui 24, Draws: 2
Last match: Wanganui 32, South Canterbury 30 (2016)

Thames Valley v Buller
Saturday 16 September, 1.30pm at Paeroa Domain, Paeroa
Played: 14 (1984-2015)
Wins: Thames Valley 7, Buller 6, Draws: 1
Last match: Buller 25, Thames Valley 17 (2015)

Wairarapa Bush v Mid Canterbury
Saturday 16 September, 2.30pm at Trust House Memorial Park, Masterton
Played: 16 (1988-2016)
Wins: Wairarapa Bush 8, Mid Canterbury 7, Draws 1
Last match: Wairarapa Bush 26, Mid Canterbury 16 (2016)

West Coast v Horowhenua Kapiti
Saturday 16 September, 2pm at Rugby Park, Greymouth
Played: 30 (1961-2016)
Wins: West Coast 8, Horowhenua Kapiti 22
Last match: Horowhenua Kapiti 52, West Coast 22 (2016)