A rousing start by Thames Valley saw them build a 19 point lead over the visiting West Coast side before a second half collapse resulted in a 27-25 defeat in their opening round game of this year’s Mitre 10 Heartland Championship at Boyd Park, Te Aroha.
A disappointed Thames Valley team was left to reflect on what might have been as they surrendered a certain four competition points during a contest they were quite capable of winning.
Captain for the day, Shaun Hill, led by example and opened the scoring for Thames Valley in the eighth minute with a try that was converted by debutante first five, Reece Broughton.
Broughton added a penalty on the quarter hour to increase the lead but it was matched minutes later by a penalty from West Coast’s Tom Reekie.
Thames Valley centre, Sam McCahon, was next to get his name on the scoreboard with his first try for the Heartland season but Broughton was unable to add the conversion.
Thames Valley continued to dominate and was rewarded for its hard work when winger, Kieran Lee scored a third try just after the half hour mark.
The conversion was successful and the home side was leading 22-3 with half time in sight but a late try to West Coast winger, Maleli Mudu gave the visitors some hope going into the sheds at the break.
It started to go wrong for the hosts soon after the restart when fullback Peter Te Rakau dotted down and with Reekie adding the extras, West Coast were back in the game.
Regan Stanton scored next and the conversion tied the scores at 22 all with 10 minutes to go.
Another Broughton penalty, which was Thames Valley only second half points, returned the lead to the home side but a bruising try by No.8 Amenatave Tukana with two minutes to go put West Coast back up by two points with two minutes to play.
There was no miraculous comeback and the West Coast team took the win and a bonus point while Thames Valley only had a losing bonus point to show for a game they should have won.
The result leaves Thames Valley sitting in ninth spot on the points table.
Thames Valley 25
(Shaun Hill, Sam McCahon, Kerrin Lee tries; Reece Broughton 2 con, 2 pen)
West Coast 27
( Maleli Mudu, Pete Te Rakau, Regan Stanton, Amenatave Tukana ,Tom Reekie 1pen, 2xConvs )
– HT 22-08 TV