Thames Valley put in a much improved performance against Mid Canterbury in the latest round of the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship at the Ashburton Showgrounds but it was still not enough to claim a valuable win away from home. Mid Canterbury are contenders for a top four place in the prestigious Meads Cup section of the Heartland competition and although Thames Valley troubled them at times the more consistently performed home side was always in control of the game. Mid Canterbury led 16-8 at halftime but Thames Valley closed the gap to two points with a try shortly after the restart and threatened to upset as the score remained the same until the last quarter of the game. The home team handled the pressure well by keeping Thames Valley at bay and then proceeded to score three tries in quick time to take the game away from the visitors. Hayden Wisnewski, Lance Easton and Sam Stanley scored tries for the Valley, Moss Doran kicked a conversion and Beau Hamilton added a penalty in the 38-22 loss.
The result dashed any hopes of Thames Valley making the playoffs, with Saturday’s clash with Poverty Bay at Boyd Park, Te Aroha being the last game for this year. Mid Canterbury moved into third place as a result of the win and courtesy of Wanganui’s big win over previous third place holder Buller. Westport has been kind to the home side this year but the visiting Wanganui side inflicted a 28-0 loss to push Buller back to fourth equal with Wairarapa Bush who had a narrow 32-30 win over Poverty Bay in Gisborne. South Canterbury kept the heat on Wanganui by defeating Hanan Shield neighbours North Otago 44-16 at Whitestone Stadium in Oamaru. South Canterbury remains second while North Otago will have to be content with a Lochore Cup place for this year.
Horowhenua Kapiti finished off West Coast’s playoff chances with a 52-22 victory in Levin and kept their own hopes alive at the same time while King Country hit their straps against a hapless East Coast outfit at Whakarua Park running up a 72-24 scoreline that keeps them in with a chance of making the top four if they can win this weekend and other results go their way.