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Mercury Bay Swampfoxes celebrate after the game, from left: Connor McVerry, Cody Muir and Trinity McQueen. Photo: SUPPLIED

Great win at Whiti

After an entertaining 26-21 victory over North Otago at Whitianga, Thames Valley is well placed to be semi-finalists in the Meads Cup section of the Bunnings Warehouse Heartland Championship. The Swamp Foxes remain in third place on the points table and are now seven points clear of two teams in fourth place.
The Mercury Bay Rugby and Sports Club, well supported by its community, responded magnificently to the challenge of hosting the first ever first-class rugby match in Whitianga. Lyons Park was in excellent condition, the weather was perfect and the largest crowd in recent years to witness a Thames Valley match enjoyed a first rate game.
Both teams entered into the spirit of the occasion with the backs spinning the ball wide and the forwards joining in with some great support play. The defence of each side was also of a high standard and it took 24 minutes before the Thames Valley backs and forwards combined to enable Tayne Tupaea to score the first try of the match. There was no conversion but eight minutes later Cameron Dromgool was over for a try, which Todd Doolan converted. Down 0-12, the pressure was on North Otago and they responded with a try to Ben McCarthy, which he converted to make the half time score: Thames Valley 12 North Otago 7. Just after halftime, Harry Lafituanai made a brilliant break from inside his own half. The move was carried on by Lea Mau Fangufangu and Sam McCahon ended up scoring under the posts. Doolan converted to give the Swamp Foxes a 19-7 lead. This was extended to 26-7 when McCahon scored his second try which Doolan again converted. With nearly three quarters of the game gone, Thames Valley looked to be set for a convincing win but the pesky South Islanders had different ideas. They attacked strongly and with less than ten minutes to go had scored two converted tries and closed the gap to 26-21. There was an air of apprehension in the crowd – could North Otago score a fourth converted try and steal the game? The answer was, no. Thames Valley are not called the Swamp Foxes for nothing and they used their guile to close the game down and secure their 26-21 victory.
The crowd roared their approval and were thrilled their provincial team had a win in their first ever match at Whitianga. After full time, the players spent a lot of time acknowledging the support of their fans with Mercury Bay team members Connor McVerry, Trinity McQueen and Cody Muir being much in demand.
Thames Valley play Poverty Bay at Gisborne next week before returning to Boyd Park. Te Aroha for their final round robin match against Horowhenua Kapiti on October 8.
The top five teams are: 1. South Canterbury, with 29 points; 2. Whanganui, 26; 3. Thames Valley, 25, 4. Mid Canterbury, 18; 5. North Otago, 18.