Thames Valley slipped back to seventh place in the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship after losing 25-16 to Mid Canterbury at the Paeroa Domain on Saturday.
The win lifts Mid Canterbury two places above Thames Valley on the points table but owing to the close nature of the competition this year there is still only a 10-point spread across the top eight sides and they are all in contention for top four places with two weeks to go in round robin play.
Chris Doak got the scoring underway with an early penalty for Thames Valley and added two more before Mid Canterbury replied with an unconverted try and a penalty to make the score 9-8 with half time approaching.
The game changing moment came when Thames Valley were awarded a penalty handy to the posts but declined the shot at goal and in the play that followed, Mid Canterbury first five Jarred Percival intercepted a pass just out from his own goal line and ran the length of the field to score a try that he also converted, to give his side a 15-9 lead at the interval.
Mid Canterbury scored a converted very early in the second half and Percival added another penalty to open up a 25-9 lead.
For the last 30 minutes it was all Thames Valley as they dominated possession and territory but the visitors’ defence was first class and even though Alex Bradley crossed for a converted try in the 60th minute, Mid Canterbury did enough to keep the lead.
Beau Hamilton had a penalty attempt from out wide with 10 minutes to go but it was astray.
In the last minute a very kickable penalty was awarded to Thames Valley but they opted for a scrum which failed to produce any points and the chance of an invaluable bonus point went begging.
The Thames Valley Development Team had a happier time in the curtain raiser holding off a much improved Waikato Under 85kg team from the one they beat 32-0 three weeks ago.
Waikato lifted their game for the rematch but the home side led from the outset and ensured they finished the season on a high note. Tries to Jerome Hill and Tyrone Keith were complemented by a conversion and two penalties to Jarrod Goodall as Thames Valley defeated the Waikato side 18-13.
The team produced one of the most impressive win loss records by any Thames Valley rep team in many years.
They won four out of five competition games to take out the Northern Regions Under 85kg title with a week to spare.
They also played three preseason games and one friendly last week for a seven win, two loss record from nine games.
Coach Peter O’Connor has announced he is stepping down from the role while his assistants, Colin Walker and Michael Bellamy are keen to continue next year.
The Under 16s played Taranaki in New Plymouth last week losing 82-5 while the Roller Mills played Bay of Plenty in Tauranga in a competition match and they also recorded a heavy defeat.