The heavyweights are showing out after five rounds of the Mitre 10 Heartland competition with Wanganui continuing to set the pace with a 52-30 win over Poverty Bay in Gisborne on Saturday.
Right wing Te Rangatira Waitokia shot to the top of the try scoring list in the competition when scoring four times for Wanganui, giving him nine tries for the season.
Wanganui have 24 points with South Canterbury on their heels on 22 points after their 62-16 win over Thames Valley.
Buller maintained their hold on third place with 21 points as a result of their 54-22 win over East Coast. Setefano Sauqaqa and Anthony Tailua crossed for three tries each in Buller’s seven-try haul and with six conversions James Lash retained the lead on the individual points scorers table with 84 points.
Wairarapa Bush knocked North Otago out of fourth and down to seventh when winning 38-22 in Oamaru. With their bonus point try advantage, Wairarapa Bush are on 19 points while Mid Canterbury’s 34-22 win over West Coast saw them take fifth place on 17 points.
King Country, with a 42-18 bonus try win over Horowhenua Kapiti moved to 16 points, one ahead of North Otago. King Country and North Otago are due to meet in the next round in Te Kuiti.
Another key clash will see Wairarapa Bush host Buller.
Results from Saturday were:
Thames Valley 16 (Hayden Wisneski, Ben Bonner tries; Moss Doran 2 con)
South Canterbury 62 (Kalavini Leatigaga 2, Cameron Bailey 2, Hamish Strachan, Mathew Etheredge, Kieran Coll, Maxx Morris, penalty try; Willie Wright 2 con, Bailey con)
Poverty Bay 30 (Siosiua Moala, Dan McIntyre, Jody Allen, Jacob Cook tries; Isaia Vuki 3 con)
Wanganui 52 (Rangatira Waitokia 4, Michael Nabuliwaqe, Lindsay Horrocks, Campbell Hart tries; Steve Crosbie 4 con, pen)
Mid Canterbury 34 (Jarrad Percival 2, Christian Vainerere, Jon Dampney, Mike Lynch tries; James Percival 2 con)
West Coast 22 (Erenimo Tau 2, Brogan Watt tries; Nic Cumming 2 con)
Horowhenua Kapiti 18 (Rahiri Connor Johnson, Aaron Lahmert tries; Perry Hayman con, pen; Lahmert pen)
King Country 42 (James Hemara, Ralulu Bavov 2, Gene Waller, Alex Thrupp, John Koko tries; Zayn Tipping 3 con)
North Otago 22 (Shay Tucker, Filipo Veamatahau, Lemi Masoe tries; Josh Casey 2 con)
Wairarapa Bush 38 (Andrew McLean, John Ika, Glenn Walters, Iziq Foa’i, Zac Guildford tries; Tim Priest 3 con, pen).
Buller 54 (Setefano Sauqaqa 3, Anthony Tailua 3, Scott Neighbours tries; James Lash 6 con)
East Coast 22 (Long Fisiioi 2, Ben Parkes tries; Todd Doolan 2 con)