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Heartland Championship Preview: Round 6

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allblacks.com     29 Sep 2017     Getty Images

The reigning champions have found the going tough in 2017 and will need to be at their best to see of a King Country side that will sense an opportunity for a rare victory in Wanganui. The Rams have only won one game in 2017 but have picked up five bonus points to show they have been in the contest every time they have taken the field.

QUICK TAP: SOUTH CANTERBURY FIRM UP LEAD IN HEARTLAND CHAMPIONSHIP

South Canterbury sit at the top of the ladder but face a tricky road-trip to Greymouth to face West Coast on Saturday afternoon. West Coast have won three from five and cannot afford to drop another game if they are to qualify for the Meads Cup playoffs.

An intriguing clash awaits in Paeroa where Thames Valley hosts Mid Canterbury. Just one point separates the sides on the ladder with the winner positioning themselves nicely for a playoff spot.

A desperate North Otago will host Poverty Bay in Oamaru. A win for North Otago will keep their Meads Cup playoff hopes alive while a loss will surely consign them to the Lochore Cup side of the draw.

Saturday’s action is rounded out with winless East Coast hosting fourth-placed Buller in Ruatoria.

It’s a local derby in Wellington on Sunday when Wairarapa Bush and Horowhenua Kapiti square off at Westpac Stadium. In a curtain-raiser to the Wellington v Otago Mitre 10 Cup game, Wairarapa Bush will need a big turnaround in form to take out the high-flying Horowhenua Kapiti.

THE MATCH UPS

East Coast v Buller

Saturday 30 September, 2.30pm at Whakarua Park, Ruatoria
Played: 27 (1976-2016)
Wins: East Coast 8, Buller 19
Last match: Buller 54, East Coast 22 (2016)

North Otago v Poverty Bay

Saturday 30 September, 2pm at Whitestone Contracting Stadium, Oamaru
Played: 23 (1986-2015)
Wins: North Otago 15, Poverty Bay 7, Draws 1
Last match: North Otago 30, Poverty Bay 23 (2015)

Thames Valley v Mid Canterbury
Saturday 30 September, 2pm at Paeroa Domain, Paeroa
Played: 20 (1964-2016)
Played: Thames Valley 9, Mid Canterbury 8, Draws 3
Last match: Mid Canterbury 38, Thames Valley 22 (2016)

Wairarapa Bush v Horowhenua Kapiti
Saturday 30 September, 12.10pm at Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Played: 53 (1971-2016)
Wins: Wairarapa Bush 34, Horowhenua Kapiti 17, Draws 1
Last match: Wairarapa Bush 32, Horowhenua Kapiti 22 (2016)

Wanganui v King Country
Saturday 30 September, 2.30pm at Cooks Garden, Wanganui
Played: 64 (1933-2016)
Wins: Wanganui 31, King Country 30, Draws 3
Last match: Wanganui 22, King Country 10 (2016)

West Coast v South Canterbury
Saturday 30 September, 1.30pm at Rugby Park, Greymouth
Played: 31 (1912-2016)
Wins: West Coast 6, South Canterbury 25
Last match: South Canterbury 58, West Coast 20 (2016)