Thames Valley Heartland team clinches historic win over Buller
Thames Valley climbed to fourth position in the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship standings after recording its first ever win over Buller at Westport since the commencement of the competition in its current format in 2006.
The historic victory was only the second time Thames Valley has ever won a game in the South Island in a Heartland Championship game since Mid Canterbury was beaten 13-7 in 2007 at Ashburton.
It also marked consecutive victories on the road with the team scoring over 40 points in both games after losing their opening round game against West Coast in Te Aroha two weeks ago.
The team had several players under an injury cloud going into this game before co captain Shaun Hill was invalided out of the game altogether after damaging his leg in a training run at Murchison on Friday afternoon while prop Te Huia Kutia was unavailable following his selection for the New Zealand Heartland Under 19 team which is competing at the National Tournament in Taupo this week.
Hill’s late withdrawal allowed Mathew Abraham to start in his preferred position in midfield and the Thames back made the most of his opportunity by scoring Thames Valley’s first try after an earlier effort by half back Ben Bonnar was ruled out for a prior infringement.
Reece Boughton converted but Buller came back smartly with a penalty and a converted try to lead 10-7 after 20 minutes.
A late burst of points was scored just before the interval.
Harry Lafituanai got on the end of a sharp break to score by the posts allowing Boughton a simple conversion and following the restart, lock Cameron Dromgool scored from a strong forward drive.
Caleb Aperahama got one back for Buller to end the half 19-15 in favour of the visitors.
Thames Valley maintained their momentum after half time and a long range break by Brett Ranga resulted in replacement winger, Ethan Seymour getting his first try in provincial rugby.
Minutes later Ranga burst clear and raced 50 metres for his own try.
Boughton converted both and Thames Valley led 33-15.
Buller responded with a concerted attack but a wayward pass was intercepted by Boughton metres from his own line and he ran 95 metres to put Thames Valley further in front.
The visitors scored immediately after the restart when Seymour broke from outside his 22 and sprinted 60 metres to score and push Thames Valley into the 40s.
The conversion attempt missed as did a penalty attempt soon after but all Buller could offer in reply was one more converted a few minutes from the end of the game to make the final score 43-22 to Thames Valley.
Buller is now win-less from three games and lies only just ahead of East Coast at the bottom of the table.
Wanganui and Thames Valley’s next opponent, King Country are both unbeaten and lead the competition on 14 points each with Mid Canterbury next on 12.
Thames Valley Development Team made it two wins for the senior sides when they outscored North Harbour Under 85s, 29-26 at Windsor Park on the North Shore.
Trailing 11-10 at half time, Thames Valley scored three second half tries to secure the win.
Tries to Stephen Wise, Tim Maamaloa, Charles Pipe and Jarrod Allen-Baker gave Thames Valley a bonus point with Nathan Emery kicking a penalty and three conversions.
The win keeps the team in second place in the competition.
All the age grade rep teams were in action again on the weekend including the Under 18s and Under 16s who were playing tour games in the Hurricanes region.
Both sides had good wins during the week but found the going tougher on Saturday. The Under 18s lost 38-16 to Horowhenua Kapiti at Levin and the Under 16s lost 34-21 to Poverty Bay in Gisborne after leading 21-7 at half time.
The Under 14s lost for the first time in three games, going down 34-0 to the Corinthians at Hinuera and the Under 45kgs lost 38-7 to Western Bay of Plenty in Tauranga in round 2 of their Invitation Tournament.
On Sunday, the Roller Mills team played a preseason game against Counties Manukau Roller Mills development team at the Maramarua Rugby Club.
Thames Valley led 28-0 at half time and went on to win 61-0 to finish off another busy weekend of representative rugby.