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Wanganui defend Heartland rugby title

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 29/10/2016
James Lash © Kerry Marshall/Getty Images James Lash

Wanganui survived their toughest test of the Heartland championship season to pip Buller 20-18 at home in the Meads Cup final.

The defending champions had romped imperiously through the season in the amateur-based championship for minor unions, averaging nearly 50 points in winning their 10 previous games.

However, Buller launched a bold challenge and could have stolen a victory if first five-eighth James Lash had been successful with one of two long-range penalty attempts in the closing minutes.

It was Wanganui's fifth title, extending their lead as the most successful Heartland Championship union.

Earlier, North Otago beat defending champions King Country 44-22 in the second tier Lochore Cup final in Te Kuiti.

The visitors scored six tries to three, including two just before halftime to push them 24-8 clear at the break.

The game was watched by former All Blacks great and Te Kuiti local Sir Colin Meads, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August.

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