Buller, courtesy of a late penalty goal to James Lash, qualified for the Meads Cup play-offs when scoring maximum points in their 40-38 win over King Country to move to third behind Wanganui and South Canterbury, who were both unable to claim bonus points in their games.
Mid Canterbury were left with a worrying hour or two as they waited for the later starting Wairarapa Bush game. But with East Coast’s poor record it would have taken the upset of the year to deny Wairarapa Bush at home the win.
That left Mid Canterbury facing the prospect of being top qualifier for the Lochore Cup section with King Country clearly in second place after they claimed two bonus points in their loss to Buller.
West Coast managed an upset win over North Otago but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Oamaru-based side from claiming a play-offs place with Poverty Bay sneaking over North Otago for the third qualifying position after their 50-14 win over Thames Valley.
Heartland results: (to be updated with Wairarapa Bush-East Coast at 8pm)
Poverty Bay 50 (Siosiua Moala 2, Ethine Reeves, Everard Reid, Keiran Short, Ratu Daurua, Jody Allen tries; Isaia Vuki 4 con)
Thames Valley 14 ( )
King Country 38 (James Hemara, John Koko 2, Dean Church 2 tries; Zayn Tipping 4 con)
Buller 40 (Anthony Tailua 2, Dan Hytongue, James Lash, Blair McIlroy tries; Lash 4 con, pen)
Wanganui 20 (Te Rangitira Waitokia, Blake Hohaia 2 tries; Craig Clare con)
Horowhenua Kapiti 12 ( )
South Canterbury 14 (Junior Faavae, Maxx Morris tries; Willie Wright con)
Mid Canterbury 0
West Coast 54 (Erenimo Tau 3, Maleli Mudu, Nik Cumming, Logan Heath tries, penalty try; Nik Cumming 5 con, pen)
North Otago 42 (Jared Whitburn, Matthew Vocea, Simon Lilicama 2, Samisoni Tongotongo, Ralph Darling tries; Tyron Davies 2 con; Brad McKenzie con)