H-K seal tense win with late penalty
‘‘They were very passionate and supportive of us. ’’
Three games down, three wins in the bag.
A tense, forward-dominated home ground victory has seen Horowhenua-Ka¯piti rugby stay at the top of the Heartland table.
Playing on Saturday at a nearpacked Levin Domain, the home team beat Thames Valley 13-10 in a match that coach Chris Wilton said showed his team’s character.
H-K held on by their fingertips for the win after nudging ahead with a 48-metre penalty kick from first-five James So’oialo.
The home team had ‘‘a bit of a slow start’’ when Thames Valley shot out to a 7-0 lead after two minutes, Wilton said.
H-K went into the shed at halftime ahead 10-7, thanks to a try by second-five Kalim Kelemete and a penalty near the whistle.
In the second half the teams were locked at 10-10 before So’oialo calmly slotted the final penalty in the dying minutes.
‘‘They absolutely hammered our line for the last minutes. We had a very long pause to see if it was held up or not when they went over our line.’’
The try was not awarded, but then Thames Valley was given a penalty after H-K was caught offside.
In a pivotal moment in the match, Thames Valley tapped the ball and ran straight into the H-K forward pack - held up about a metre from the line before the ball was knocked on by the attackers.
Wilton said the similar styles, and wet and windy conditions, meant the game was dominated by ‘‘lots of defence’’ and plenty of scrums.
‘‘Thames Valley are strong in the forwards, and we like to think we’re kind of strong in the forwards as well.’’
Making the win even sweeter was a crowd turnout at the Domain that was one of the best that Wilton had seen.
‘‘They were very passionate and supportive of us. The players noticed it - when we kicked that penalty they wondered what the noise was, and it was the grandstand cheering.’’
They team leaves for Greymouth on Friday, where they’ll be facing a West Coast team that now includes former All Black hooker Corey Flynn.
‘‘They won’t be easy ... they’re sitting on nine points, they’ve had two wins out of their three games. There’s no easy games in Heartland rugby.’’
Despite starting the season with three wins, there was still plenty of rugby to go in the eightgame round robin section of the competition. ‘‘It’s really importive record so far. ant for us to ... play game by game Wanganui, which sits at the at this early stage.’’ top of the table with H-K on 13
However at this stage in the points, has the next best defensive competition, H-K has been the record: conceding 40 points. The strongest on defence - conceding next home game is in a fortnight only 34 points from three when H-K plays East Coast - with matches, giving it the best defens-¯inOthreelossessofar- taki.
Coach ChrisWilton about the crowd Horowhenua-Ka¯piti players look to regroup in the win over Thames Valley at the Levin Domain.