The Thames Valley Heartland rugby team made a good start to their home representative season with a solid 27-20 win against the Auckland Colts at Thames on Saturday.
Occasional showers and a muddy ground made conditions difficult but both sides still managed to move the ball about quite readily.
Auckland made an ideal start and opened the scoring in the second minute with an unconverted try.
The visitors were playing at a tremendous pace but the home side responded well and with the wind at their back Jarrod Goodall kicked the first of two penalties to close the gap after five minutes.
Another try to Auckland was converted to increase their lead but prop Travis Scott scored a try which was converted by Goodall to bring Thames Valley within two points after 20 minutes.
Auckland scored an unconverted try only minutes later but Shaun Hill crossed over shortly before half time for a converted try that locked up the game at 17 all.
With the wind behind them for the second 40 minutes, Auckland struggled to get going and could only manage another penalty, to regain the lead after 50 minutes.
Thames Valley kept plugging away till Goodall landed his second penalty with quarter of an hour to go and tied the scores.
Centre Sam McCahon finished off a period of good lead up work to cross over in the scoreboard corner with four minutes left on the clock.
Goodall kicked into the teeth of the wind from out wide to convert the try.
Thames Valley kept Auckland at bay till full time to record a 27-20 win.
The Thames Valley development team played the curtain-raiser on Rhodes Park No.3 field against the Te Marawhero XV, a Counties Manukau club combination side comprised of players from the Te Kauwhata, Maramarua and Onewhero senior teams.
Coached by former Thames Valley Heartland assistant coach, Stephen Hickey, the Te Marawhero side contained a number of former representative players who presented a tough challenge for the Thames Valley side.
With a full squad to pick from, coach Peter O’Connor put a strong side out for the game.
The lead changed hands several times and with two minutes to go Te Marawhero scored an unconverted try to take the lead 28-26.
Thames Valley swung onto the attack from the restart and pushed forward into the Te Marawhero half.
A sweeping move was halted short of the try line but Ford Ainsley was on hand to finish off the play and scored the winning try for Thames Valley to make the final score 31-28.
The secondary schools finals took place on the weekend and Paeroa College had a great day, recording wins in the Fourth Grade Final and the 1ST XV 1A final for the Coulter Cup.
Thames won the Second Grade final and Waihi College won a high scoring game against Te Aroha College, 35-21, to take the Allen Fisher Cup in the 1st VX 1B final.
The youth rugby competitions also wound up with six finals held around the union to finish off a successful year.
The winners were: Under 13 Div 1: Waihi, Div 2: Coromandel, Under 11 Div 1: Mercury Bay, Div 2: Thames, Under 9 Div 1: Paeroa, Div 2: Thames, Under 8 Div 1: Mercury Bay, Div 2: Whangamata.