Thames Valley hang on, South Canty win again
BEN STRANG AND STU PIDDINGTON
NORTH ISLAND WRAP:
Thames Valley started to get a sense of déjà vu in their match against King Country on Saturday, but this time they clung on to a 15-10 victory.
After coughing up a 14-6 lead to draw 19-19 with Horowhenua Kapiti in round one, the Swampfoxes looked like doing the same in the second round of the Heartland Championship.
But this time Thames Valley learnt from their mistakes, kept penalties to a minimum and ground down a threatening Rams side at Boyd Park in Te Aroha.
Swampfoxes first five David Harrison slotted four first half penalties to hand his team a 12-0 lead at the break.
His radar was well and truly on, slotting two late penalties from halfway and making use of a strong wind at his back.
King Country came out after the break showing confidence, but in slippery and windy conditions struggled to hold onto the ball.
When Rams lock Gene Waller was carried from the field with a serious looking knee injury, it looked like things wouldn't go King Country's way.
The forwards kept pounding the ball up the middle of the field but Thames Valley were holding strong.
Last week Thames Valley paid for getting on the wrong side of the referee, but this time they were more disciplined at the breakdown.
King Country pivot Whakataki Cunningham did have an early sight at the posts in the second half, but pulled it to the left from 40m out.
The points came soon after, however, when flanker Shaun Barr mauled over the line near the sideline.
Cunningham added the extras, and then slotted a penalty to bring the game to 12-10.
With 10 minutes remaining Cunningham had the chance to seal a victory with a penalty wide on the right, but left it short, and then Harrison was given the chance to extend the lead up the other end, which he did.
King Country then launched a powerful attack up the right win which looked like bringing a try to tie the match.
Up stepped Thames Valley reserve Joe Murray, stealing the ball at the ruck and winning his team a late penalty.
From there the Swampfoxes kept the ball to close out the match, much to the delight of the Boyd Park crowd.
The win moves Thames Valley to six points on the Heartland table, one point ahead of King Country on five after two rounds.
The result will bring the Rams back down to earth after an impressive opening round victory over Wairarapa Bush.
Bush had a massive turnaround of their own yesterday, although it probably feels like another loss for the men in green.
Hosting preseason favourites Mid Canterbury in Masterton, the visitors scored a last-minute try and conversion to tie the scores at 23-23.
It was a return to form for Bush, who had an impressive preseason, but not quite enough to secure their first victory of the campaign.
Buller piled on the points in Ruatoria, slaughtering East Coast 67-6.
Iliesa Ravudra scored a hattrick for the visitors while first five James Lush directed play well in the middle of the park.
Meanwhile, Wanganui's season is in tatters after two rounds, suffering a 34-23 defeat at the hands of Horowhenua Kapiti.
Cooks Gardens wasn't the fortress it usually is, as Michael Tambour and Perry Hayman did the damage for visiting Horowhenua Kapiti.
SOUTH ISLAND WRAP:
South Canterbury made it two from two in the Heartland Championships with a convincing 49-15 win over West Coast in Greymouth.
Three tries in each half mean they have maximum points to sit alone on top of the table.
North Otago put on stunning second half show to beat Poverty Bay 43-34 in Oamaru after trailing 29-12 at the break.
Poverty Bay had the four try bonus by the break but simply ran out of gas, allowing North Otago to also gain a bonus point.
North Otago looked in big trouble in the first 20 minutes as Poverty Bay looked like scoring every time they had the ball with centre TK Moeke and 36-year-old Rico Gear running at will.
The hosts however clawed their way back with blindside flanker Josh Clark outstanding and captain Ralph Darling proved his worth in the front row and also scored a try.
As North Otago started to dominate lock Sale Pi'i was prominent and also got on the score sheet.
In the backs centre Chris Masoe and fullback Chris Talanoa impressed, while young wing Tenina Sauileoge scored a brilliant individual try.
Coach Mike Mullins said pleased his side got the win.
''It gives a shot at the Meads Cup, it would be tough to start with two losses.''
Mullins said with the elements in the second half they were confident despite trailing by 17 points.
In Greymouth South Canterbury always looked the better side and had their first try within five minutes to loose forward Sam Vea.
They also gave the ball plenty of air and width with right wing Maile I'Ongi scoring twice and impressive left wing Erenimo Tau also dotting down.
Fullback Jared Trevathan also had a good game in front the New Zealand Heartland selectors. In the forwards captain Nick Strachan had an excellent scavenging game in the the number 7 jersey while Doug Hill also played very well when he came on at lock as a substitute.
For West Coast left wing Regan Stanton was a stand-out on his debut after switching from league while open side Josh Hill tackled anyone that came his way.
West Coach Allan Lindsay was not happy with his side's poor performance but credited South Canterbury for their attacking flair.
''That Pasifika charm works, with a few miracle balls thrown in.''
South Canterbury coach Chester Scott said he was satisfied but not getting carried away.
''Its good to win, we had more pace and firepower out wide, but there are still things to work on.''