King Country defeated Thames Valley 37-29 in an action packed Heartland Championship match played at Te Aroha last Saturday.
A large crowd was entertained throughout as the game was refereed by former Black Fern, Rebecca Mahoney.
At half time both sides had scored two converted tries and kicked a penalty goal to make the score 17-all.
The Thames Valley centre Sam McCahon had a very good first half scoring an excellent try in the opening minutes and later setting up winger, Kieran Lee for his try.
The third quarter was all King Country as they rattled up 20 points with a penalty goal, three tries and a conversion to go into the lead by 37-17.
However the Swamp Foxes demonstrated that they are a team full of spirit and determination which enabled them to finish the game strongly with tries to Glen McIntyre and Ethan Seymour.
This secured them a four try bonus point and they almost gained another for a close finish but the final try was not converted. As well as the four try scorers Reece Broughton kicked a penalty goal and three conversions.
Thames Valley remain in fourth place on the points table but have now been joined by Wairarapa Bush, Mid Canterbury and West Coast.
This week the Valley play against North Otago at Te Aroha in what is anticipated to be another close match as the Southerners sit one point behind the Swamp Foxes on the competition ladder.
Mahoney did an excellent job controlling the Thames Valley vs King Country match, and was the first women to referee a first class rugby match in New Zealand.
In spite of a lot of media attention prior to kick off, Mahoney remained calm and there was no sign of nervousness as she refereed this historic match.
Her rulings were clear and well received by the members of both the Thames Valley and King Country Teams.
At the after match function Mahoney was presented with a plaque to mark the occasion.
Edmond Leahy of the Thames Valley Rugby Union highlighted Mahoney’s career and then the memento was handed over by Susan Youngman, representing the King Country Rugby Union.
Mahoney thanked all concerned and paid tribute to the players who had accepted her appointment in such good spirit.
Roller Mills King Country 32, Thames Valley 17; Under 14 Thames Valley 12, King Country 12; Under 16 Thames Valley 24, King Country 19; Under 18 King Country 24, Thames Valley 17; Development Thames Valley 29, King Country 12.