Thames Valley continued its preparation for the commencement of the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship with a busy week of activities that included a formal team launch and a one day Boot Camp at Thames last Saturday.
The annual Bayleys Heartland Team Launch was held at the Thames Rugby and Sports club last Wednesday night where the 2018 players and management and their families had the opportunity to spend time mixing with sponsors and supporters in a relaxed environment before being formally introduced to the audience later in the evening. Speakers for the evening included Todd Murphy, who talked about the Thames Valley Supporters Club which is making a comeback after being in recess for a long time and Ben Bonnar, who gave an update on the link between the Heartland Team and the Goldfields School followed by Coach Matthew Bartleet who spoke about the coming season before the formal introduction of the players rounded out the evening.
The Boot Camp was based at Thames High School and from all accounts it was a demanding day for the players.
The Development Team played their final preseason game against King Country Development at Boyd Park, Te Aroha. With the Northern Regions competition starting next week, this game was the last opportunity for coaches Colin Walker and Mike Bellamy to make tweaks and changes to the team and game plan. Thames Valley made an excellent start as centre Charles Pipe finished off some very good lead up work to score close to the posts early in the first half. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful and this proved to be crucial in the final outcome. Thames Valley continued to dominate but was unable to add to the score and it was King Country who scored next with a converted try late in the half to grab a 7-5 halftime lead. Thames Valley scored after the break to regain the lead but it was short lived as a second try to the visitors put them in front again. A third try to King Country late in the game was converted to give them an unassailable lead and although the home team scored a last minute converted try the visitors took the spoils with a 19-17 win.
The Under 16’s were the other Thames Valley team to take to the park when they played what was supposed to be the Northland Under 15’s team at Waitakaruru Domain on Sunday in their first preseason game of the year. Outsized considerably by the visitors, the home side found themselves on the wrong side of a 42-5 fulltime score.
The Under 18’s had an overnight camp at Whitianga with a trial game on Sunday to help finalise the reduced squad of 26 players to compete in the Northern Regions Under 18B competition which starts this week. Later in the season the team will be undertaking a three match tour of the Lower North Island playing against other Heartland Under 18 teams.
The Girls Under 13 tournament round three was to be held at the Waihi Athletic Rugby Club on Friday night but the event was called off due to poor weather conditions. Time permitting this round may be rescheduled to take place at a later date.