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Telly Hemopo makes a flying try for the Swamp Foxes. Photo: SUPPLIED/JAKOB ANDREW

One-point loss in action-packed match

Thames Valley gained two bonus points from a disappointing 43-44 loss against Horowhenua Kapiti in their Heartland Championship match played at Te Aroha last Saturday. In spite of losing the game, the Swamp Foxes have remained in third place on the points table. This means that for the last four seasons Thames Valley has made the play-offs in the Meads Cup section of the competition. They will now play Whanganui in a semi-final at Whanganui next Saturday. As a result of a convincing 41-21 victory over North Otago, King Country jumped into fourth place and will play South Canterbury in the other semi-final.
There was plenty of action at Te Aroha where a total of ten tries were scored and the lead changed hands seven times. Horowhenua Kapti had plenty to play for with a place in the Lochore Cup semi-finals in the offing and they can be well pleased with their performance.
Thames Valley opened the scoring with tries to Lea Mau Fangufangu and Telly Hemopo, both of which were converted by Zak Stephens.
Midway through the half the score was 17-all. Stephens had added a penalty goal while the visitors had scored three tries and a conversion. There was a feast of scoring up until half time when the Swamp Foxes led 34-31. Stephens had kicked his second penalty goal while Tayne Tupaea and Calum Wood both scored tries which he converted. Horowhenua also notched up two converted tries.
With a total of 65 points on the scoreboard, the momentum slowed in the second half as each team tightened up their defence. Both sides exchanged penalty goals and then the Horowhenua fullback managed to score between the posts following some fancy footwork.
The successful conversion enabled Horowhenua to regain the lead at 41-37 with ten minutes to go.
This lead was short lived as Stevens kicked his fourth and fifth penalty goals and the Swamp Foxes were back in front. Time was almost up as Valley endeavoured to hold on for a 43-41 victory. In doing so they conceded a penalty right on full time and Horowhenua kicked the goal to win 44-43 and gain a home semi-final in the Lochore Cup section of the Heartland Championship.
It is not the best preparation for the Swamp Foxes to go into the semi-finals with consecutive loses to two teams below them on the points table. They are not defending as strongly as they were at the start of the season and too many promising attacks are not producing points.However, with hard work this week they have the potential to be more than a match for Whanganui. On the plus side it was good to see replacement five-eighth Zak Stephens’ excellent goal kicking in scoring 23 points against Horowhenua with five penalties and four conversions.
FINAL POINTS: Meads Cup South Canterbury 39, Whanganui 36, Thames Valley 27, King Country 25. Lochore Cup. North Otago 23, Horowhenua Kapiti 20, East Coast 16, Mid Canterbury 18.