Thames Valley recorded its third win of the season and its first win against North Otago in six attempts since 2006, at Boyd Park, Te Aroha on Saturday to hold on to a share of fourth place in the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship.
Horowhenua Kapiti and West Coast are also on seventeen points but Thames Valley has a superior for and against points differential.
Horowhenua Kapiti, who play Thames Valley at Boyd Park in two weeks’ time, scored four tries to two when they beat neighbours Wairarapa Bush 37-21 at the Levin Domain, while West Coast took the Rundle Cup from Buller at Victoria Square in Westport with an impressive 34-28 win over last year’s Meads Cup semi-finalists.
North Otago arrived in Te Aroha with an unblemished record against Thames Valley in the Heartland Championship and sat only one point behind the home side on the points table before the start of play.
But the Swampfoxes had learned some harsh lessons from the previous week’s defeat at the hands of King Country and played with marked improvement in the first forty minutes to lead by 33-7 at halftime.
Centre Sam McCahon got the first of Thames Valley’s six tries followed by second five Matt Abraham, who came on as replacement for injured skipper Shaun Hill after 20 minutes, Kieran Lee, who got a double, and fullback Harry Lafituanai.
First Five Reece Boughton was having an off day with the boot, converting only one try and a penalty in the first half while Simon Lilicama scored for North Otago and Josh Buchan added the conversion.
North Otago piled on the pressure in the second half and for twenty minutes they hammered the Thames Valley line but the hosts held on and popped up at the other end of the paddock and kicked another penalty to increase the lead.
The visitors replied with a converted try but Thames Valley came back strongly and flanker Christian Kelleher scored near the posts for Boughton to convert five minutes from the end.
North Otago, wearing their change strip of blue jerseys because of the colour clash with Thames Valley’s gold shirts, picked up a consolation try just before fulltime, to make the final score 43-21 to Thames Valley.
The Thames Valley Development Team finished off its season in style by completing a four-game unbeaten run in the Northern Regions U85kg competition.
They had a 19-7 win against next door neighbours, Waikato, in the main curtain raiser at Boyd Park after the scores were tied at 7 all at half time.
The Mooloo men were looking for their second win of the year but the loss consigned them to the lower end of the table.
Thames Valley finished well ahead of third-placed North Harbour but couldn’t quite catch the winning Auckland side.
Hooker Manawa Hill, lock Jason Hayward and replacement Dylan Horne scored the tries and Nathan Emery kicked two conversions.
In the early curtain raiser at Boyd Park, the Thames Valley and Waikato Roller Mills teams met for the first time this year and it was the visitors that led at half time by 12-0.
Thames Valley played extremely well against an opponent that has regularly posted embarrassing scores against them so when the fulltime whistle blew for a 29-5 win for Waikato there was much for the home team to be pleased about.
The Under 18’s played the Harlequins in Hamilton and were beaten 31-18 in their final game of the competition to finish fifth this year, while neighbours King Country won the competition by going through unbeaten.
The Under 16’s played the Bay of Plenty Under 15’s at Katikati and lost 39-13 in their final game for this year.
The Under 18’s and Under 16’s have now completed their programmes for 2018.