West Coast will host the Lochore Cup final against Poverty Bay who pulled a rabbit out of the hat to shock North Otago.
South Canterbury: 34 (Liueli Simote 2, Conor Anderson, Sui Kakala tries; Sam 4 con 2 pen) Ngāti Porou East Coast: 17 (penalty try, Faifili Levave tries; Terangi Fraser con, pen) HT: 3-10
South Canterbury has done it again. For the fifth time this season, they recovered from a halftime deficit to extend their record of consecutive victories to 30.
Ngāti Porou East Coast was abrasive; the first half a staunch and sluggish affair. The first try happened after 35 minutes, a penalty try from a rolling maul.
When former Manu Samoa international Faifili Levave wriggled over for a try, after a Terangi Fraser break in the 50th minute, the hosts looked in trouble at 17-3.
However, the bench supercharged the Green and Blacks and their lineout became like a submarine. The visitors' discipline waned, and two yellow cards saw hooker Conor Anderson and No.8 Sui Kakala thrust over from lineout drives.
Reserve hooker Junior Faavae was massive and when things opened up silky fullback Liueli Simote ran amok.
East Coast were whole-hearted but will be left to rue their lack of discipline. However, they continue their rapid rise from 2021 where they ended a 54-game losing streak.
Whanganui: 38 (Apolosi Tanoa, Roman Tutauha, Peceli Malanicagi 2, Raymond Salu tries; Dane Whale 2 con pen, dg, Luke Whale pen) Thames Valley: 3 (Hendrix Beazley pen) HT:27-3
Whanganui powered their way into a 12th Meads Cup final with a resounding victory over Thames Valley. Only a 58-26 thrashing of Wairarapa Bush in 2016 could rival the margin of success the Butcher Boys enjoyed at Cooks Gardens today.
First-five Hendrix Beazley kicked an early penalty for Thames Valley otherwise it was a Whanganui whitewash.
The hosts' first try was scored after 15 minutes with a cross-kick by halfback Lindsay Horrocks to the right wing of Apolosi Tanoa. Horrocks in his 101st game for Whanganui executed his kick as well as Antoine Dupont!
Hooker Roman Tutauha has been a source of stability and strength in 100 games for Whanganui. From a lineout drive, he marked a century with a pushover try.
The Thames Valley hole grew deeper when fullback Peceli Malanicagi jabbed a kick from just outside his 22 to halfway. Thames Valley fumbled and Malanicagi gathered the bounce and flashed clear.
Prop Raymond Salu, lock Peter Travis Hay-Horton and openside Jamie Hughes were at the heart of an outstanding forward effort. Centre Alekesio Vakarorogo, a scorer of five tries last Saturday, was threatening.
Thames Valley was much better in the second spell and had two tries overruled. Whanganui lost discipline and a player to the sin bin. Centre Harry Lafituanai marked 50 games for the province and blindside Tayne Tupaea hearty.
The biggest win by Whanganui over Thames Valley was 65-18 in the first Heartland fixture at Cooks Gardens in 2006.
Wanganui's runaway 79-7 thrashing of Wairarapa-Bush last weekend was a new Heartland record for the Butcher Boys.
The biggest win in a semifinal is 76-9 by South Canterbury against King Country in 2022.
West Coast will host a major final for the first since 2019 after resisting a fast-finishing Wairarapa Bush 33-27 at Masterton's Trust House Memorial Park.
The strong wind had a major bearing on the proceedings and West Coast had first use scoring four first-half tries. Inspirational captain Troy Tauwhare opened the scoring with a trademark lineout drive while fellow front-rower Tyler Kearns was full of bustle and muscle and dotted down. Wing Logan Ross was feverish, and his 50-meter runaway even earned applause from the home spectators.
Openside Steven Soper, lock Josh Manning, and Jarel Hemahema were instrumental.
Wairarapa’s first try consisted of 23 phases. Openside Inia Katia was a man-possessed and there was huge impact from Lewis Bush.
West Coast were beaten in the 2009, 2017, and 2019 finals. Poverty Bay has won the Lochore Cup four times.
West Coast: 33 (Troy Tauwhare, Logan Ross 2, Tyler Kearns, Jamie Garland tries; Ross 4 con) Wairarapa Bush: 27 (Fiula Tameilau, BJ Campbell, Inia Katia; Tipene Haira 3 con, pen Andre Taylor pen)
West Coast will host Poverty Bay who achieved an improbable victory over North Otago in Oamaru. Down 25-7 at halftime, Poverty Bay roared back to tie the score 28-28. A converted try reclaimed the ascendancy for North Otago. Poverty Bay scored their fifth try to close the gap to two. With less than ten minutes remaining the comeback was complete; Poverty Bay scored a converted try.
North Otago: 35 (scorers to come) Poverty Bay: 40 (scorers to come)