Brought to you by Whanganui Rugby
Whanganui still occupies third place on the Bunnings Heartland Championship points table, but they are back in another three-way tie decided by points differential, joined by Mid Canterbury and North Otago.
The Cantabrians created history on Saturday when they won the first golden point game in Heartland, after a penalty by first-five Tom Reekie, five minutes into extra time.
Leading 12-5 at halftime and then 19-5 with their third try immediately after the resumption at the Ashburton Showgrounds, the home side seemed well on their way to a bonus-point victory.
Although that fourth try didn't come, the win still seemed certain with six minutes left, until the brave visitors grabbed seven points and then scored again right on fulltime to deadlock the match.
Mid Canterbury nonetheless saving the game in golden point would have put them ahead of Whanganui by virtue of their Round 2 victory over them, except upcoming opponent North Otago picked up an important road win – beating winless Buller 45-26 in Westport.
North Otago smoked out to 33-3 ahead at halftime, but Buller were inspired for a much stronger second half by the "grand old man" making history from the bench.
Front row legend Phil Beveridge, 47-years-old, became the oldest first-class player for a New Zealand union in a century, after he answered an SOS from the coaching staff to comeback for his 176th match for Buller.
They rallied to score four tries, including a hat-trick to winger Mitieli Kaloudigibeci.
However, North Otago scored twice more to stay well clear, with doubles from fullback Levi Emery and hooker Sam Sturgess, securing fourth place narrowly on differential from Mid Canterbury.
Previously in third, Horowhenua-Kapiti continued their slide down the table as unbeaten Thames Valley all-but locked up a Meads Cup final spot after grinding to a 28-11 away win at Levin Domain.
The home side made a fight of it, leading 6-3 in the 15th minute and closing the gap to 18-11 in the 63rd after a try, which was at the same time visiting first-five Todd Doolan was sinbinned.
It would part of a memorable game for Doolan, who scored a try in a 15-point haul, as his team finished strong with a seven-pointer near fulltime.
However, they missed another four-try bonus and so now sit two points behind South Canterbury at the top of the table, making a long away trip for the Meads Cup final likely, as those sides don't meet in the round robin.
In Greymouth, East Coast weren't able to follow up their first Heartland win in eight years with another victory, as West Coast came from behind to snatch a 39-34 thriller.
Deadlocked 22-22 at halftime, it was an electrifying final 10 minutes as West Coast centre Sean McClure (14 points) slotted a penalty to put his side up 32-29, before visitors got their fifth try for 34-32 with five minutes left.
Again, they had been bolstered by Ma'a Nonu, Hosea Gear and Faifili Levave jogging on after 57 minutes, while first-five Te Rangi Frasers finished with his own 14-point haul.
However, the hosts scored through second-five Joseph Scott in the shadow of fulltime to take their second win of the season after not playing in 2020.
And Wairarapa Bush continued their late season revival with back-to-back wins, beating bottom-table King Country 24-12 in Taupo.
Prop Lewis Bush and Soli Malatai both scored doubles for the visitors, who kept their 12-point lead through a scoreless final quarter.
Round 6 results, October 23
North Otago 45 (Levi Emery 2, Tony Taufa 2, Sam Sturgess, Ralph Darling, Aesesia Ravuvu tries; Able Magaloa 5 con) bt Buller 29 (Mitieli Kaloudigibeci 3, Erenimo Tau tries; Jesse Pitman Joass pen, 3 con). HT: 33-3.
West Coast 39 (Jacob Lowe, Sam Liebezeit, Steve Soper, Anthony Tailua, Joseph Scott tries; Sean McClure 2 pen, 4 con) bt East Coast 34 (Gabe Te Kani, Willie Bolingford, Teina Potae, Te Rangi Fraser, Te Wehi Wright tries; Fraser pen, 3 con). HT: 22-22.
Thames Valley 28 (Sam van der Valk, Todd Doolan, Cameron Dromgood tries; Doolan 2 pen, 2 con, Telly Hemopo pen ) bt Horowhenua Kapiti 11 (Darren Falaniko try; Jack Tatu-Robertson 2 pen). HT: 13-6.
Wairarapa Bush 24 (Lewis Bush 2, Soli Malatai 2 tries; Tipene Haira 2 con) bt King Country 12 (Joe Curuki, Kody McGovern tries; John Ika con). HT: 19-5.
Mid Canterbury 22 (Manasa Bari, Callum Burrell, Seta Koroitamana tries; Tom Reekie pen, 2 con) bt Poverty Bay 19 (Shayde Skudder, Ethine Reeves, Keanu Taumata tries; Jake Holmes 2 con). HT: 12-5. FT: 19-19.
South Canterbury 28 (Sireli Buliruarua 3, Kalavini Leatigaga tries; Sam Briggs 4 con) bt Whanganui 14 (Jamie Hughes, Alekesio Vakarorogo tries; Ethan Robinson 2 con). HT: 28-0.