Thames Valley is back in Paeroa this week for the Round Five match against South Canterbury in the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship. Coming off a loss against Wairarapa Bush last week and a draw with King Country the week before, Thames Valley is still chasing that elusive first win of the competition. Coach Hayden Roe will be aware that in order to make the semi final play offs his team has to win this week against a South Canterbury outfit that is enjoying a successful 2016 campaign.
The Southerners won their opening two games of the season before going down to Wanganui by two points at Cooks Gardens in round three. They recovered well a week later to beat Poverty Bay comfortably in Timaru. They sit in second place on the table while Thames Valley is languishing in tenth with only the two Coast teams worse off.
South Canterbury has an impressive away record against Thames Valley. In fact, since the inception of the Heartland Championship in 2006, Thames Valley has only beaten South Canterbury once in the Thames Valley. That win came in 2013, a 21-17 victory in Paeroa. They have played 11 times in the Heartland championship with South Canterbury winning 10 times, the longest winning streak consisting of eight wins between 2006 and 2012. In 2013 they met twice, with Thames Valley winning the round robin game in Paeroa and South Canterbury taking out a low scoring semi final in Timaru 14-8, later in the year. South Canterbury was the losing finalist in the Lochore Cup in 2007, 2011, 2012 before winning the trophy in 2013. They were also losing finalists in the Meads Cup last year, beaten 28-11 by Wanganui in Timaru.
This year the South Canterbury team is coached by Barry Matthews and his assistant is Grant McFarlane. Matthews comes well recommended in coaching circles and just last month he was appointed as the Head Coach of the New Zealand Heartland XV for the first time. Matthews has also coached North Otago in the Heartland Championship, guiding them to Meads Cup glory in 2010.
This week’s game will be refereed by Richard Gordon from Wellington. Kickoff is at 2.00pm.
In other grades the Under 18 team heads off to New Plymouth on Friday to take on the Taranaki Under 18’s in the final round on the Northern Region Under 18 B competition. A win for Thames Valley would push them up to second place in the overall competition.
Meanwhile the Under 16 team plays Counties Manukau at Karaka Sports Park at 12.00pm on Saturday in their final round of competition.
Also travelling to New Plymouth is the Roller Mills team. They will be playing in the traditional week long tournament which comprises of two pools of five teams. After four round robin games the teams go into play off games for semi finals and finals. The tournament concludes next Saturday