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2014 Heartland Preview – Wanganui & West Coast


We complete our reviews on all 12 Heartland Teams

we now look at Wanganui and West Coast

wanganui westcoast


wang_new22013 finish: Lochore Cup semi-finalists

After being such a dominant Heartland force during the first seven years of the championship the Butcher Boys were chopped down to size last year, not only missing a first Meads Cup final but also being dumped out in the Lochore Cup semi-finals.

The repercussions came very quickly with one-term selector-coach Karl Hoskin retiring less than three weeks after the end of the season.

Elected back into the reigns are a panel consisting of Jason Caskey and Jason Hamlin, who won Meads gold (2011) and silver (2012), fellow former Meads champion and NZ Heartland coach Guy Lennox and ex-Wanganui selector Marty McGrath.

Wanganui, with three championship titles and four times runners-up, won just four of 10 games in 2013 including losing a winning home trot of 31 matches at Cooks Gardens without defeat.

The target this year is a return to the former Meads Cup glory days with the four-man selection panel naming a large squad that is again likely to led by NZ Heartland flanker and skipper Peter Rowe (89 caps) and include locks Nick Cranston and Sonny Woodmass, also from the champion Ruapehu club.

Most experienced  of the backs is utility Ace Malo (56 games) who has recovered from injury.

Newcomer is Fijian Sikeli Ulukuta, younger brother of former NZ Heartland rep Lasa Ulukuta, who plays either as a three quarter or loose forward. He is also a useful goal-kicker, topping Wanganui club rugby this year with more than 150 pts.

Quite a few of last year’s squad have missed selection this season as the very experienced selection panel sorts out a  mobile squad that faced King Country winning 35-34 and then in very wet conditions  drawing with Manawatu B 7-7 before the championship starts.

Wanganui 2014 Heartland Championship
Week One
23-Aug Sth Canterbury v Wanganui Timaru 2:30 p.m.
Week Two
30-Aug Wanganui v Horo-Kapiti Wanganui 2:30 p.m.
Week Three
6-Sep Wanganui v North Otago Wanganui 2:30 p.m.
Week Four
13-Sep Mid Canterbury v Wanganui Ashburton 2:30 p.m.
Week Five
20-Sep Wanganui v East Coast Wanganui 2:30 p.m.
Week Six
27-Sep West Coast v Wanganui Greymouth 2:30 p.m.
Week Seven
4-Oct Wanganui v Wairarapa Bush Wanganui 2:30 p.m.
Week Eight
11-Oct King Country v Wanganui Te Kuiti 2:30 p.m.


WESTCOAST2013 finish: Meads Cup semi-finalists

Reaching the Meads Cup semi-finals for only the second time, the previous occasion being in 2008, the Coast impressed with a fourth overall Heartland ranking last  season.

West Coast gave eventual champions Mid Canterbury a real test in the Meads semi-final in Ashburton before being pipped 28-25 after twice leading and finally being foiled in the last minute of play.

Earlier there had been notable away wins over Wanganui (25-24) and Lochore Cup champions South Canterbury (30-25) plus the thrilling 14-12 Seddon Shield victory over Nelson Bays thanks to a wet weather drop goal from Tim Priest.

Winning the Seddon Shield for the first time in 33 years was a feather in the cap for the red and whites who now faced the formidable task of defending the trophy on successive weekends against Marlborough, Buller and Nelson Bays before the Heartland starts , they were successful over Marlborough before losing 31 – 42 to Buller.

Coast’s strength will revolve around current NZ Heartland reps Alan Monk (flanker), Troy Tauwhare (hooker) and Tim Priest (first five) along with hard-working loosie Rowan O’Gorman (top try scorer with six last year) and strong locks Josh Manning and Kalave Auali’itia plus front rowers Heroshi Tea and Andrew Williams (both Samoan test players)

Robert Thomson is a strong-running fullback and Maleli Mudu (69 caps) can be an elusive winger.

The Canterbury-based coaching pair of Alan Lindsay and Sean Cuttance again have a pool of talent to pick from this year.

West Coast 2014 Heartland Championship
Week One
23-Aug Mid Canterbury v West Coast Ashburton 2:30 p.m.
Week Two
30-Aug West Coast v Sth Canterbury Greymouth 2:30 p.m.
Week Three
6-Sep Poverty Bay v West Coast Gisborne 2:30 p.m.
Week Four
13-Sep West Coast v Horo-Kapiti Greymouth 2:30 p.m.
Week Five
20-Sep King Country v West Coast Taupo 2:30 p.m.
Week Six
27-Sep West Coast v Wanganui Greymouth 2:30 p.m.
Week Seven
4-Oct Buller v West Coast Westport 2:30 p.m.
Week Eight
11-Oct West Coast v Thames Valley Greymouth 2:30 p.m.

Previews compiled by JB Phillips



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