Swampfoxes kick off 2017 with win
The Thames Valley rugby team began their Heartland Championship campaign with a comfortable 42-13 victory over East Coast at Ruatoria on Saturday.
In scoring six tries to one, the Swampfoxes were rewarded with a bonus point but their overall performance showed that there is plenty of room for improvement.
A stop-start game suited East Coast and their spoiling tactics prevented the Valley from developing a cohesive pattern of play.
However man-for-man, Thames Valley was superior to their opponents. In particular Cobras winger, Tyrone Keith scored an excellent try and always looked dangerous with the ball in hand.
Co-captain, Shaun Hill from Hauraki North, featured strongly in the midfield and he too scored a try.
Boosted by the inclusion of Alex Bradley at No.8, the forward pack looked far stronger than in recent years and will become an even more effective unit as combinations develop.
Bradley was well supported in the loose by Irish import, Rory Moloney and origin player Brett Ranga while Aaron Carroll from the Bay of Plenty was the stand out tight forward.
Besides Keith and Hill, Hayden Wisnewski, Alex Bradley, Jarrod Bayliss and Mat Hart scored tries.
Chris Doak kicked two penalties and two conversions with Jarrod Goodall adding one conversion. The half time score was 30-13. Thames Valley now play Wanganui at Paeroa this Saturday.
This will be a major test for the Swampfoxes as Wanganui has won the Meads Cup on six occasions.
However the team will not be lacking support as representatives of all players’ families have been especially invited.
Also in attendance will be members of the 1962 Thames Val- ley team which defeated Australia.
They will be celebrating the 55th Anniversary of this major achievement.
Sadly Kevin Barry and Ron Kerby have passed away since the 50th anniversary but there are 11 surviving players who will be in attendance with members of their families.
They are: Terry Shaw, Ray Wells, Trevor Kilpin, Bill Walsh, Alan Wilikinson, Maru Rangi, Doug Mold, Jim Darrah, Gary Higgins, Jim Maxwell and Andy Townsend. Their coach Norm McMillan, now aged 93 will also be present.
Thames Valley player Shaun Hill passes during the match.
Thames Valley players celebrate a try.