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PREVIEW: Heartland Championship finals

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Wanganui and King Country both have the chance to secure back-to-back titles when the Meads Cup and Lochore Cup finals are played on Saturday.

Wanganui have the chance to become the first team to capture five Meads Cup titles when they take on Buller at Cooks Gardens. Buller weren’t highly favoured at the start of the year but have shown great resolve on defence and clinical finishing to qualify for the final against unbeaten Wanganui. Buller will need to call on every ounce of experience from a starting lineup that features 820 caps if they are to upset the home team at Cooks Gardens. Wanganui have scored 420 points and conceded just 136 in a stunning 2016 campaign so far.

In Te Kuiti, King Country are favoured to take out North Otago in the Lochore Cup final. The Rams flexed their attacking muscle last week by overpowering Poverty Bay by 48-26 in a crunch semifinal. North Otago also bring form into the final with a comfortable 36-24 win over Mid Canterbury.

Both matches will be screened LIVE on SKY Sport channel 51.

Meads Cup final
Match details: Wanganui v Buller, Saturday 29 October, 4.35pm, Cooks Gardens, Wanganui

meadscupfinal_stats2016

Teams
Wanganui
1. Tietie Tuimauga; 2. Roman Tutauha; 3. Viki Tofa; 4. Sam Madams; 5. Gavin Thornbury; 6. Campbell Hart; 7. Peter Rowe (Capt); 8. Malakai Volau; 9. Lindsay Horrocks; 10. Dane Whale; 11. Michael Nabuliwaqe; 12. Craig Clare; 13. Blake Hohaia; 14. Te Rangatira Waitokia; 15. Asalemo Malo.
Reserves – Forwards: 16. Cole Baldwin; 17. Hamish Mellow; 18. Bryn Hudson; 19. Jamie Hughes. Backs: 20. Kane Tamou; 21. Simon Dibben/Kameli Kuruyabaki; 22. Samu Kubunavanua.

Buller
1. Logan Mundy; 2. Anthony Ellis; 3. Phil Beveridge (co-Capt); 4. Ciaran Neilsen; 5. David Egelstaff; 6. Blair McIlroy; 7. Luke Brownlee; 8. Daniel Hytongue; 9. Andrew Stephens (co-Capt); 10. James Lash; 11. Setefano Sauqaqa; 12. Penijamini Nabainivalu; 13. Joshua Tuidriva; 14. Petaia Saukuru; 15. Anthony Tailua.
Reserves – Forwards: 16. Jareth McKay; 17. Glen Duncan; 18. Lochie Elley; 19. Simon Abel. Backs: 20. Luke Watson; 21. Stephen Crackett; 22. Matthew Bonisch.

Lochore Cup final
Match details: King Country v North Otago, Saturday 29 October, 1.35pm, Rugby Park, Te Kuiti

lochorecupfinal_stats2016

Teams unavailable at time of print.

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