Nail-biter eliminates Thames Valley
Poverty Bay claimed a nail biting one-point victory over Thames Valley at Boyd Park, to deny the hosts a place in the Lochore Cup semi finals for 2017.
In the final round robin game of the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship, the visitors threw caution to the wind after finding themselves 17 points to nil, down after quarter of an hour, against a rampant Thames Valley desperate to reach the semi finals for the first time in four years.
Thames Valley needed to win to clinch a playoff spot and made the perfect start to a must-win game. Thames Valley five eighth, Chris Doak, kicked a penalty after five minutes and winger, Harry Lafituanai scored the opening try three minutes later.
Doak converted and the home side poured on the pressure, leading to a try by Josh Law after quarter of an hour. Doak converted to increase the lead but Poverty Bay took the initiative from the restart and clawed their way back into the game with some breath-taking rugby that led to three converted tries and a 21-17 lead just before the break.
The Valley forwards stepped up and put lock Aaron Carroll over for a converted try right on 40 minutes and took a 24-21 lead into the sheds at half time.
Valley dominated the third quarter but wasted a two on one overlap with danger man Lafituanai unmarked and a short run to the try line begging to be taken.
This let off seem to inspire the visitors and they scored two converted tries in quick succession to build a commanding 35-24 lead. Carroll replied for Thames Valley with his second try for the day but the conversion was astray.
With the clock winding down Poverty Bay were flagging and co captain Shaun Hill led by example to score a try and get the home side within a point of the visitors.
The conversion attempt missed and in spite of their efforts the Thames Valley team could not add to their points tally in the remaining minutes and Poverty Bay won an epic encounter 35-34.
Both teams finished on the same number of points and under the competition rules in this situation the team that won the round robin game is deemed to finish higher on the points table thus enabling Poverty Bay to qualify for the Lochore Cup semi finals and eliminating Thames Valley from the competition for 2017.
The Thames Valley Roller Mills team competed in the annual tournament that was held at St Peters College in Cambridge last week with one pool game played a week prior to the Cambridge event. Results: Lost to Bay of Plenty 132-0, lost to Taranaki 47-10, lost to Auckland West 107-0, lost North Harbour 67-0, lost to King Country 19-15.
This brings an end to the representative season for all grades in Thames Valley rugby for 2017 with prize giving held last night and next week.