Thames Valley heads back to Boyd Park, Te Aroha for the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship Round Seven game against Horowhenua Kapiti after putting in a scratchy performance against Poverty Bay last week in Gisborne.
On a day when the 1988 Thames Valley team is holding a Reunion to celebrate winning the NPC Division Three Championship, the current team comes face to face with one of the form teams in the last two years of the Heartland Competition. Boasting a strong forward pack, led by standout skipper, Ryan Shelford, the visitors have a number of key backs, spearheaded by ace goal kicker, James So’oialo who kicked the winning goal to beat Thames Valley in Levin last year.
Horowhenua Kapiti has an identical win loss record to Thames Valley with the hosts having a slightly superior points difference but the visitors have the upper hand in recent encounters winning two and drawing another in the last three meetings. Thames Valley has lost two and one won of its three games at Boyd Park so far this year and will need to show a marked improvement on last week if it wants to do well against a Horowhenua Kapiti team that is finding the kind of form that took them all the way to last year’s Meads Cup final against Wanganui.
After suffering a big loss to South Canterbury at Westpac Stadium in Round Three they have gone on an unbeaten run including an impressive victory over a King Country team that beat Thames Valley in Te Aroha recently.
Thames Valley coach Matthew Bartleet has a number of injuries and unavailability’s to deal with this week and has named the following squad for Saturday:
T Kutia, G McIntyre, S Tupou, C Dromgool, M Rolston, B Ranga, C Kelleher, A Bradley, M Fisher, R Boughton, E Seymour, S Hill, S McCahon, K Lee, H Lafituanai.
Reserves: S Ouchi/ M Hill, S De La Fuenhe, B Vincent/M Hart, L Easton, B Bonnar/ C Berridge, N Emery, M Abraham.
The referee is Angus Mabey from Auckland and the game starts at 2.00pm
In other Round Seven fixtures, winless Buller hosts Mid Canterbury at Westport while Ngati Porou East Coast has the unenviable task of trying to stop the Wanganui juggernaut at Whakarua Park in Ruatoria. King Country will attempt to halt its slide down the table against Poverty Bay in Taupo as Hannan Shield rivals North Otago and South Canterbury square off in Oamaru. A win for either West Coast or Wairarapa Bush when they meet in the final Round Seven at Rugby Park in Greymouth could see them in contention for a Meads Cup playoff place.