Big chance, some chance, slim chance, no chance

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One more round of games remains before the Heartland Championship splits into the Meads Cup and Lochore Cup semifinals. Hayden Meikle looks at how things might pan out.

THE GAMES
West Coast v East Coast (Greymouth), Mid Canterbury v King Country (Ashburton), Poverty Bay v Buller (Gisborne), South Canterbury v Thames Valley (Timaru), Wanganui v Horowhenua-Kapiti (Whanganui), Wairarapa-Bush v North Otago (Masterton).

THE TEAMS
Wanganui (34 points): Guaranteed to qualify top, no matter what happens this weekend. Favoured to win a seventh Meads Cup.

South Canterbury (27): Not running at 100% but has home advantage this week. Can still miss Meads Cup so can’t be complacent.

Thames Valley (27): Can host a Meads Cup semifinal if it beats South Canterbury. Would only drop out of the top four if Horowhenua-Kapiti upsets Wanganui.

King Country (26): Not guaranteed a Meads Cup spot so will want to get points against Mid Canterbury, or also hope Wanganui is not upset.

Horowhenua-Kapiti (23): Seems likely to host a Lochore Cup semifinal.

Wairarapa-Bush (21): Could miss playoffs altogether if it loses badly to North Otago, and both Mid Canterbury and West Coast win. But favoured to host a Lochore Cup semifinal.

Mid Canterbury (17): On the bubble. Out of the playoffs if it loses and two of the three teams immediately below it win.

West Coast (17): Should get five points, so Lochore Cup semifinal seems assured.

North Otago (16): Teetering. Needs to win in Masterton to avoid worst season in 20 years.

Poverty Bay (15): Slim chance to make top eight if it wins and other results go its way.

Buller (11): Disappointing season. Only playing for pride.

East Coast (1): Should play Mitre 10 Cup laughing stock Southland in a wooden spoon game.