His­toric win for Thames Val­ley

Waihi Leader - - News - By THAMES VAL­LEY RUGBY UNION

Thames Val­ley scored an his­toric 17-12 vic­tory over South Can­ter­bury to win the Meads Cup in the Heart­land Cham­pi­onship fi­nal played at Ti­maru on Satur­day.

It was Thames Val­ley’s first ap­pear­ance in a fi­nal since the in­cep­tion of the com­pe­ti­tion in 2006 and to win the pres­ti­gious cup hon­our­ing Sir Colin Meads goes down as one of the finest achieve­ments in the his­tory of the Thames Val­ley Rugby Union.

Win­ning the 2018 sea­son as the top Heart­land team also means Thames Val­ley will play a Ran­furly Shield chal­lenge match against Otago next year.

The team re­ceived a sim­ple mes­sage from the coaches for the fi­nal on Satur­day – work harder and for longer.

With this mantra ring­ing in their ears, the Swamp Foxes put in an amaz­ing 80 minute per­for­mance and again demon­strated that strong sense of self be­lief which has grown through­out the sea­son.

Even though they were down 12 -3 at half time, Thames Val­ley had shown prom­ise on at­tack but it was South Can­ter­bury who had man­aged to score two tries and a con­ver­sion, in re­ply to a penalty goal by Reece Boughton. In the sec­ond half it was dif­fer­ent story.

The Swamp Foxes put Brett Ranga over for an early try af­ter a long build up which in­volved good runs by Kieran Lee and Harry Lafi­tu­a­nai.

Boughton con­verted and the Val­ley had closed the gap to 12-10.

With the game evenly poised, Thames Val­ley stepped up their de­fence and pre­vented South Can­ter­bury from scor­ing any more points.

Fol­low­ing a se­ries of charges close to the South Can­ter­bury line, Val­ley’s re­place­ment prop Ser­gio De La Fe­unte crashed over for the win­ning try in the 68th minute.

Boughton again con­verted and for the first time in the match Thames Val­ley had the lead, 17-12.

Just as they did against Wan­ganui, the week be­fore, the Swamp Foxes then pro­ceeded to dom­i­nate pos­ses­sion and de­fend tena­ciously when­ever South Can­ter­bury did have the ball.

The game ended with ref­eree Jamie Nut­brown award­ing Thames Val­ley a penalty – Boughton tap-kicked and then cleared the ball to touch much to the sheer joy of the nu­mer­ous Swamp Fox sup­port­ers who had made the trip to Ti­maru, hop­ing for the best pos­si­ble out­come, and be­ing re­warded for their en­thu­si­asm.

They then mobbed the play­ers, all of whom de­served recog­ni­tion as the player of the match.

Rhonda Wil­cox, daugh­ter of Sir Colin Meads, pre­sented the win­ners’ medals to the Swamp Foxes and then handed over the Meads Cup to co-cap­tains Brett Ranga and Shaun Hill, who was un­able to play be­cause of an in­jury.

PHOTO / GETTY IMAGES.

Thames Val­ley head coach Matt Bartleet and cap­tain Brett Ranga cel­e­brate with the Meads Cup af­ter beat­ing South Can­ter­bury.

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