H-K seal tense win with late penalty

The Horowhenua Mail - - SPORT - JOEL MAXWELL

‘‘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.

PHOTO: YOLANDA WAT­SON

Coach ChrisWil­ton about the crowd Horowhenua-Ka¯piti play­ers look to re­group in the win over Thames Val­ley at the Levin Do­main.

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