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Cup prospects improve

Tafa Tafa on the attack against South Canterbury. The second-five scored the last try in Wai-Bush’s win over West Coast to keep their Lochore Cup chances alive. PHOTOS/FILE

Farriers Wairarapa-Bush’s 42-30 win over West Coast revived their Lochore Cup chances, but how realistic are their prospects of sneaking into the semifinals?

Not as remote as some might think!

The victory lifted Wai-Bush to 10th in the championship standings on seven points. If they pick up the maximum 10 points from the final two rounds and move to 17 points, that could be enough to secure a semifinal spot in the Lochore Cup, contested among the fifth to eighth-placed teams in the Heartland Championship.

Since the present format came into place in 2011, the lowest points tally needed to scrape into eighth has been 17, and that has occurred on four occasions. Three wins, along with the various bonus points, have been sufficient six times.

On the standings after six rounds, South Canterbury, Whanganui, and Thames Valley have sown up three of the four semifinal spots for the Meads Cup. All three are likely to play pivotal roles in helping decide the Lochore Cup semifinalists.

North Otago are favoured to secure fourth place ahead of Mid Canterbury. Both are on 18 points but Mid Canterbury have a horror draw of South Canterbury and Whanganui in the final two rounds, meaning that a place in the Lochore Cup is probably their lot.

Of the teams that Wai-Bush can catch and/or pass King Country and Buller are on 15 points, and Ngati Porou East Coast and Horowhenua-Kapiti are on 14 points and all have at least one tricky encounter.

West Coast and Poverty Bay bring up the rear on six points but with their next opponents being North Otago and Thames Valley respectively, their remote chances will probably end on Saturday.

So let’s look at the remaining contenders.

Wai-Bush captain James Goodger is confident the side can sneak into the Lochore Cup semifinals.

King Country are away to Buller and home to North Otago. A win over Buller would appear to be their best bet, and maybe a bonus point against North Otago.

Buller host King Country followed by an away trip to Masterton for what could be a virtual quarterfinal. Two wins are a possibility but Buller’s biggest problems have been inconsistency and they have conceded more than 50 points on three occasions, including an 83-7 hiding at the hands of Whanganui last weekend.

East Coast probably need to beat Wai-Bush in Ruatoria on Saturday, with their final match, an away trip to Timaru to take on runaway leaders South Canterbury.

Horowhenua-Kapiti, in ninth place, have probably the trickiest finish, starting with a home game against a Whanganui side who are finally hitting their stride, followed by a tough away clash with Thames Valley.

Wai-Bush have arguably the best run home, away to East Coast on Saturday, and at home to Buller the following week. Their equation is simple, win the final two games with bonus points for scoring four tries, and that maybe just enough to sneak into the Lochore Cup. Anything less and they can probably kiss their season goodbye.

The Green and Reds haven’t been far off the pace in most of their games, and the win over West Coast will do their confidence a world of good. Momentum at the right time of the season is a big thing, and if Wai-Bush can build on last Saturday’s effort, who is to say they can’t go all the way?

How does this look for a potential final points table, after trying to factor in the dreaded bonus points?

Fifth – King Country 20 points, sixth – Mid Canterbury 19 points, seventh – Wai-Bush 17 points, eighth – Buller or East Coast 17 points.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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