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Match Report: Thames Valley 17 v 20 NZ Universities

Thames Valley v NZ Universities

Thames Valley opened their 2021 first class season by going down 17-20 to New Zealand Universities in a closely contested match at Boyd Park Te Aroha.

Either team could have won the game and it took a last minute penalty goal by Universities first five eighth, Shun Miyake to clinch a victory for the visitors.

The Swamp Foxes showed a lot of promise in dominating territory and possession for much of the game but often failed to capitalise on this advantage because of poor handling. However, the NZ Universities had the superior scrum which gave them the opportunities to launch counter attacks.

The half time score was 10 all with each side having scored a converted try and a penalty goal. Telly Hemopo finished off a fine fifty metre movement to score Valley’s try by the posts. Todd Doolin added the conversion to go with a penalty goal he had kicked after 25 minutes. Doolin featured again fifteen minutes into the second half.

From a penalty he kicked the ball into the corner and from the resulting lineout weaved his way through the defence to score between the posts. He converted to give Thames Valley a lead 17-10.

It was not until the final ten minutes that NZ Universities came back into the match when their bench players, with more size and speed, gave them an edge. After a prolonged period of attack on the Valley line, where they were met with superb forwards’ defence, Universities managed to spin the ball out wide for fullback Ryan Barnes to score. Miyake converted to tie the points and soon after he kicked the winning penalty goal to make the final score 20-17.

This was a very encouraging start for Thames Valley. All players demonstrated the commitment to succeed at this higher level and they now have two weeks to enhance their skills before the Heartland Championship commences. And the NZ Universities will have certainly benefited from this hit-out before they take on King Country next Saturday.

For NZ Universities: Noah Foster and Ryan Barnes tries. Shun Miyake 2 penalty goals and 2 conversions.

For Thames Valley: Telly Hemopo and Todd Doolin tries. Doolin 1 penalty goal and 2 conversions.