Mid Canterbury's big chance in home final

Getty Images     26 Oct 2013     Getty Images

They host North Otago at Ashburton on Saturday afternoon in a true battle of the Hanan Shield Districts for the Meads Cup. It is a sign of the strength in this area that the third member South Canterbury will host the Lochore Cup final.

Mid Canterbury were twice beaten by Wanganui in the Meads Cup finals in 2008 and 2009. North Otago won the Meads Cup in 2007 and in 2010 while winning the Lochore Cup in 2009.

Home advantage will be important for Mid Canterbury who enjoyed a fine Heartland championship. Murray Williams has been a key contributor for the side with his goal-kicking and play-making skills to accumulate 107 points so far in the championship.

But three-quarters Dwayne Burrows and Will McGoon have been highly effective try scorers for the side, touching down 11 times between them.

Loose forward Jon Dampney is the side's most experienced player and success would be great reward for the contribution he has made to Mid Canterbury during his career.

North Otago has its own attacking bent with Chris Talanoa at fullback one of the most potent try scorers in the competition. Edward Keohane has also been a key driving force for the side this year and has posted 105 points.

South Canterbury have everything to play for in the final of the Lochore Cup section of the Heartland Championship.

Beaten 28-31 by Buller in last year's final, they have played three finals without success.

Coach Chester Scott believes he has the firepower to pull off the victory this year, not the least at fullback where Liam Edwards has been the dominating individual in points scoring in the competition.

Loose forwards are also vital and in Sam Vea and Nick Strachan, South Canterbury are well served.

One concern is in the backline where first five-eighths Scott Norton has suffered a rib injury and is only bracketed on the reserves bench with Kurt Rooney given the job of steering the ship and opening up the talented midfield where John Peeters and Fa'aitu Tuamoheloa have had an effective season.

Buller, the defending Lochore Cup champions, are playing their third final, having lost to Wairarapa Bush in 2010.

They have had a good season with players Like Mike Schmidt-Lealava'a, Penijamini Nabainvalu and Iliesa Revudra having a big impact for the side while Andrew Stephens has been crucial with the boot.