After recording back to back losses in the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship, Thames Valley produced a 26-7 win against previously unbeaten Buller at the Paeroa Domain on Saturday.
The four tries to one result was just-reward for a much improved home side that had allowed certain victory to escape their grasp in their last two outings. The side picked up a bonus point for scoring four tries and now sits in fifth position in a tightly packed points table.
Thames Valley made a great start when fullback Harry Lafituanai fielded a grubber kick just out from his own posts and proceeded to step his way clear and sprint the length of the pitch to score under the posts in the first minutes of the game.
Jarrod Goodall converted and from the restart Thames Valley broke out from their own 22 with a run that ended just outside the Buller 22.
Thames Valley loan player Hayden Anderson suffered a serious leg injury in the movement and play was halted until he was cleared from the field.
Buller responded well after the resumption in play and fullback Anthony Tailua scored after a good period of sustained pressure by the visitors.
Leading competition points scorer, James Lash converted to level the scores but he failed to trouble the scoreboard again.
Thames Valley were next to score when Alex Bradley crashed over from a 5m scrum.
Goodall converted and they went into the break with a 14-7 lead. Tries to co captain, Hayden Wisnewski and prop George Lelenoa pushed the home side further in front after the interval while a strong defensive effort prevented the visitors from adding to their score.
Thames Valley now moves on to play King Country this week at Te Kuiti while Buller returns to Westport for a home game against Wairarapa Bush.
Full Time :
Thames Valley 26 (Harry Lafituanai, Alex Bradley, Hayden Wisnewski, George Lelenoa tries; Jarrod Goodall 3 con)
Buller 7 (Anthony Tailua try; James Lash con).
The Thames Valley Development Team is the toast of the union after winning the Northern Regions Under 85kg competition following a 32-0 win over Waikato at Marist Park in Hamilton.
The team was unbeaten going into this match and the bonus point win means they cannot be caught on the leader board with only one round remaining.
Flanker Dylan Horne scored two tries with Stephen Wise, Jarrod Baker, Tumua Uluilelata and Read Tobin getting one each. Hammond Wickliffe kicked a conversion to complete the scoring.
The record-keepers and historians are doing some checking but it appears that this is the first time that a Thames Valley team has won any competition since the NPC team won the old Third Division in 1995. This is yet to be confirmed.
The Under 18s went down by two points to the New Zealand Harlequins at Centennial Park in a tight tussle. This is an Under 18s competition game so the team picked up a bonus point for the loss but it is a game the coaching crew felt they should have won.
Currently Thames Valley shares top spot with Taranaki on 11 points but NZ Harlequins are just one point behind and have a game in hand.
The Under 16s lost to Waikato 57-7 in the early game at Centennial Park while the Under 45kg team played out the third day of the Invitation Tournament at Boyd Park, Te Aroha on Sunday.
The team lost 31-26 to top side Hamilton Gold in the first game but gained a measure of redemption by beating King Country 26-10 in their final game.
The team won three and lost two games to finish third in the competition for this year.