The records books needed a good study and the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship is now guaranteed a first-time Meads Cup winner this coming Saturday after Thames Valley's seismic upset over Steelform Wanganui in the semifinals.

Entering their first ever playoff in the top tier, Thames Valley had never previously beaten Wanganui under the Heartland rugby format, introduced in 2006.

You had to go back to 2001 for the last time the Swampfoxes upended the Butcher's Boys – a 30-8 win in Te Aroha.

Stretch back well over another decade to find the last time Thames Valley beat Wanganui on their home turf, all the way back in 1988.


It was a sad way for Wanganui team manager Chris Back to end his association with the squad, which has been for 105 first class games since 2008.

Despite their obvious disappointment, the Wanganui players sincerely wished the underdogs well for their trip to Timaru this weekend, hoping they can pull the upset again against Wanganui's rivals and fellow perennial contenders South Canterbury.

"If they go like this, they've got all the chance in the world of making history for their union," said Wanganui captain Roman Tutauha.

Having been so close but so far from winning the Meads Cup in the past three seasons – losing a home final and two home semifinals to Wanganui and Buller respectively – South Canterbury will feel this is finally their year after a comfortable 58-21 win over King Country on Saturday.

The home side have only lost in the North Island this year, 21-10 by Wanganui at Cooks Gardens and 27-24 by Wairarapa Bush in Masterton, while South Canterbury also beat Thames Valley 33-24 in their last round robin match in Timaru just the previous weekend.

Against King Country, South Canterbury executed their attack perfectly to blow out to a big 38-7 by halftime which became 44-14 late in the piece.

Both dangerous winger Kalavini Leatigaga and big prop Garret Casey - their sole tryscorer at Cooks Gardens – picked up doubles.

Halfback Willie Wright turned in an excellent kicking performance, nailing 10 from 11 attempts, which coupled with his try made for a 28 point haul.

King Country fullback Declan Barnett pounced on a rare mistake by the home side to score his team's first half try, while hard-working flanker Kaleb Foote and mainstay centre Alex Thrupp got consolation five-pointers in the second stanza.

But it was nowhere near enough for King Country to emulate their Thames Valley neighbours by winning their first ever Meads Cup playoff.

In the Lochore Cup semifinals, both the home teams were able to pick up the victory, and both were therefore able to reverse defeats by their opposition in the round robin.

Having lost 24-0 on their artificial turf to North Otago just seven days before, Wairarapa Bush completed a remarkable turnaround to beat the same team 30-21 in the sudden death game in Masterton.

Taking a narrow 10-7 into halftime after conceeding the opening try, the home side struck first after the break with first-five Glen Walters landing his second penalty, but would then trade tries with North Otago, who took a 21-20 lead into the last 10 minutes.

With inspirational captain Ralph Darling in his 100th game and fellow prop Matt Duff in his 50th, North Otago would have thought they were nearly home after converted tries by winger Matt Vocea and the loose forwards Junior Fakatoufifita and Jake Greenslade.

However, the home side did what Wanganui couldn't and wracked up another ten points from their third converted try and another penalty from Walters, who finished with a 15 point haul.

Second-five Mike Lealeva'a had a day he'll long remember with two tries, while halfback Daryl Pickering also crossed.

The Bush will now head back across to Levin after Horowhenua Kapiti got payback on Mid Canterbury with a 34-24 win at the Domain in the battle of 5th vs 8th.

Horowhenua Kapiti had lost to the Cantabrians 30-24 in the opening round for a home game they moved to Foxton, and this time in Levin they found themselves trailing 17-0 early on.

Lucky to be in the Lochore playoffs at all after West Coast were stripped of six competition points for an illegal player, in contentious circumstances after Horowhenua Kapiti led an eight-union appeal to the NZ Rugby appeals council, Mid Canterbury were determined to give lock Eric Duff and try scoring flanker Setariki Koroitamana the win for their 50th games.

Winger Brian Matoramusha would grab a double for the visitors, with first-five Nathan McCloy converting all of them and adding a first half penalty.

However, Horowhenua Kapiti came firing back with two tries to narrow the score to 17-14 by halftime, but the sides would then trade tries for Mid Canterbury to maintain control at 24-21 after 53 minutes.

Yet from here, Horowhenua Kapiti turned on the screws, as their excellent goal kicking first-five James So'oialo, so pivotal to the team's recent successes, would add three successful penalties, plus convert the home side's fourth try to finish in the clear.

No 8 Tyson Maki, second-five Leon Ellison, winger Kalim Kelemete, and inspirational captain and lock Ryan Shelford all dotted down.

Horowhenua Kapiti will now look to emulate their 37-21 home win over Wairarapa Bush in round five, which would finally give them a Heartland title in their union's 125th anniversary season, having previously come runnerup in the Lochore Cup in 2008 to Poverty Bay and runnerup in the Meads Cup last year to Wanganui.

Heartland Semifinals, October 21.
Meads Cup
Thames Valley 17 (Sitiveni Topou, Glen McIntyre tries; Reece Broughton pen, 2 con) bt Wanganui 7 (Craig Clare try, con). HT: 17-0.

South Canterbury 58 (Kalavini Leatigaga 2, Garret Casey 2, Setafano Sauqaqa, Sione Fa'aoso, Willie Wright tries; Wright 3 pen 7 con) bt King Country 21 (Declan Barnett, Kaleb Foote, Alex Thrupp tries; Evan Reihana 3 con). HT: 38-7.

Lochore Cup
Wairarapa Bush 30 (Mike Lealeva'a 2, Daryl Pickering tries; Glen Walters 3 pen, 3 con) bt North Otago 21 (Junior Fakatoufifita, Matt Vocea, Jake Greenslade tries; Josh Buchan 3 con). HT: 10-7.

Horowhenua Kapiti 34 (Tyson Maki, Leon Ellison, Kalim Kelemete, Ryan Shelford tries; James So'oialo 2 pen, 4 con) bt Mid Canterbury 24 (Brian Matoramusha 2, Seta Koroitamana tries; Nathan McCloy pen, 3 con). HT: 17-14 Mid Canterbury.