Win bumps Thames Valley up to third
The Thames Valley rugby team regained possession of the Centurions Cup after defeating King Country by 45-36 at Rugby Park, Te Kuiti, in a Mitre 10 Heartland championship fixture that sees the team move up to third place on the points table.
A seven-point spread covers the first eight teams, indicating how tight the competition is and how important it was for the team to pick up a bonus point for scoring four tries against a team they hadn’t beaten since 2014.
Once again Thames Valley made a brisk start with a penalty to Jarrod Goodall followed by a converted try to George Lelenoa to lead 10-0 after eight minutes.
King Country drew level after 30 minutes but further tries to Goodall and Hayden Wisnewski gave Thames Valley a 22-10 lead at half time.
King Country scored a converted try early in the second half to narrow the gap but a penalty to Goodall and tries to Harry Lafituanai and Tyrone Keith put the visitors ahead 39-17 with 20 minutes to go.
The home team lifted its game to bring the score back to 39-36 but two penalties from replacement Beau Hamilton ensured Thames Valley came away with the win.
It was a high-scoring encounter with both teams scoring five tries and it was the first time Thames Valley had scored over 40 points in an away game since beating Poverty Bay 43-37 in Gisborne in 2015.
It was also the first time Thames Valley had won two games in a row since September 5, 2015 when they beat East Coast a week after beating Poverty Bay in the aforementioned game.
The Development team suffered its first defeat of the Under 85kg competition at the hands of the King Country Devel- opment team, losing 28-12 in the curtainraiser at Te Kuiti.
Having secured the competition title with a week to spare Thames Valley did not have the usual levels of accuracy and execution of game plan and King Country took full advantage to spoil the visitors’ previously unbeaten record.
King Country led 13-0 at the break and were up 23-0 before Thames Valley got on the scoreboard.
Sitiveni Topou and Jerome Hill scored tries and Stephen Wise kicked a conversion but another try to the home side ensured them a sound win.
The Under 18s fared better against their King Country counterparts winning 31-27 on the No.2 field. They scored five tries through Wian Binedell (2) Keanu May-Matafeo(2) and Coel Kerr while Hendrix Beazley kicked three conversions.
The result put the team into second place on the table with a week to go in the competition. The team has the bye this week.
The Under 16s came up against a strong King Country team and lost 55-5 while the Roller Mills team had a closer game but still went down 26-14.