Match Center

Whanganui RFU

Thames Valley

27

Whanganui RFU

35
Heartland Championship November 6, 2021 @ 2:00 pm Te Aroha

By Jared Smith

A home Lochore Cup fixture was secured and a significant point proven as a Steelform Whanganui side locked out of the Meads Cup final made sure Thames Valley won’t head to Timaru without a blemish.

In stifling humid conditions in Te Aroha, Whanganui held off the unbeaten Swampfoxes and their passionate sideline support, 35-27 in a physical and occasionally spiteful finish to the Bunnings Heartland Championship round robin on Saturday.

A tough fixture, Whanganui had to overcome losing prop Hadlee Hay-Horton to a knee injury after 17 minutes, seeing rookie reserve Jack van Bussel have to go deep, as did workhorse Viki Tofa, whose departure after about 66 minutes saw the game revert to golden oldies scrums, given the visitors also lost hooker Roman Tutauha to his sore achilles at halftime.

Determined not to take a backward step, Whanganui had to play 20 minutes with 14 men with lock Josh Lane sin binned for taking a player in the air after a previous team warning, while winger Alekesio Vakarorogo was sent to cool his heels for a lifting tackle.

The home side lost Connor McVerry to a yellow card for a late tackle midway through the first half, but with a rising penalty count, ultimately 14-11 in favour of the Thames Valley, there were a lot of opportunities granted to accurate long range kicker Todd Doolan, who had already raised over 100 points in six games and slotted 17 more at Boyd Park, including five three-pointers.

But if anybody loves the niggly stuff its Whanganui first-five Dane Whale, who played on the front foot and produced some solid cover defence, big turnovers, and breakouts when Whanganui needed them, while 50th game flanker Jamie Hughes was inspiring for 80 minutes.

For the second week, the players coming off the bench provided a big lift, vital in the hot weather, because as well as van Bussel getting out there early, Ben Whale, Semi Vodosese and Timoci Seruwalu immediately stepped up to make the hard carries, while Craig Clare came on a halftime and contributed nine points, including what proved the match-winning try in the 63rd minute.

Out-scoring the hosts four tries to two, Whanganui’s tackled hard in numbers and would hit back with points every time it appeared Thames Valley looked like they might gain ascendancy – including a crucial try right before halftime by centre Kameli Kuruyabaki off a pinpoint Whale cross kick to re-take the lead.

Just like the 2019 Meads Cup semifinal in Paeroa, Whanganui exposed the Thames Valley lineout in the final ten minutes, as they overthrew the catcher or spilled it in the aerial scramble, with Dane Whale, Clare, and halfback Lindsay Horrocks more than happy to use the wind to boot the home side back into their own half.

“There was always going to be a bit of niggle, so we just wanted to make sure we gave them nothing and didn’t give them an easy ride, so we’re happy with how that side of it went,” said captain Campbell Hart.

“A good, tough game in this tough heat.

“Defence was good, I think penalties let us down. We’ll want to look at that before next week.

“But happy with the win, happy that they came back into the game but we managed to stay ahead.”

In an ideal world, coach Jason Caskey would be bringing his side back into Te Aroha for a Meads Cup semifinal this coming weekend, but having locked in a very secure third place after a tough away game schedule, his squad had sent a clear message about what might have been in a normal competition.

“One thing we wanted to do, was send them into the Meads Cup final with a disgusted taste in their mouth, so that was a positive.

“I said to the boys, ‘they’re a pretty arrogant troop, so get up in their faces and serve it to them on a platter’, and [Thames Valley] didn’t like it too much.”

He credited the full 22 for an outstanding effort in the warm weather and physical exchanges.

“The boys are in the showers to go get changed, and they’re still sweating.

“Every time they got points on us, we responded.”

The victory confirmed a home Lochore Cup final under the revised format, and Whanganui’s opponent for that game changed three times in the space of 30 minutes on Saturday.

Mid Canterbury surprisingly being unable to get a bonus point in their win over Buller opened the door for North Otago to pass them with a big victory over winless King Country, and when Poverty Bay scored right on fulltime, Horowhenua-Kapiti fell from potential third all the way to seventh.

Caskey had not minded which of them made it through.

“That’s fine, we’ve done our jobs, and just got to back up next week.”

His only concern will be the front row, because as well as Hay-Horton’s injury, Tofa is not available for games played on Sunday’s, which the Lochore Cup final will be.

 “We’ll give it a couple of days and see what happens.”

Whanganui drew first blood in the opening four minutes when after a penalty lineout, the forwards worked towards the posts, and Hughes ran a nice low line to reach out in the tackle and score.

Doolan replied with an 7th minute penalty, but with Lane securing the kickoff, Thames Valley infringed and second-five Ethan Robinson again put his side seven points clear.

Doolan appeared to slot another 40m penalty with the AR’s raising their flags, but referee Tipene Cottrell correctly sighted that the ball and gone outside the sticks.

McVerry’s departure saw Robinson extend the advantage to 13-3 after 28 minutes, but Whanganui soon lost Lane and Thames Valley stormed up with 13 points in about seven minutes.

Doolan slotted two long range penalties in front, and then Thames Valley’s powerful winger Joe Cooke finished off a 60m try after his team put the ball through the hands and he beat the outside cover.

Down 16-13, Whanganui lifted as fullback Te Rangatira Waitokia cut through the line until taken in a high tackle, and having advantage Dane Whale tried a long cross kick and no-one was anywhere near Kuruyabaki to take the ball at the tryline and score.

Robinson missed the conversion but five minutes after halftime added another penalty to extend the advantage, before Thames Valley leveled in the 50th minute when Whanganui overthrew the lineout and hooker Sam van der Valk couldn’t believe his luck to snatch it and charge through two tacklers to score.

At 21-21, Doolan surprisingly missed the go-ahead kick, and Whanganui were not tied for long as Whale dummied through the line after a penalty lineout to get his side to the tryline, with the ball freed for Waitokia to dot down at the flag, with Clare taking over from the departed Robinson to slot the kick from the sideline.

A Doolan penalty closed the gap to four points in the 59th minute, but again Whanganui responded as they got the lineout from the kickoff, with the fresh reserves all making big yards on the carry.

Clare got the ball from a tryline ruck at a stop-start, and despite Thames Valley howling that Vakarorogo was accidently offside, the veteran played the whistle to step through the last tackle and dive over for a try he converted.

Down by 11 points with 18 minutes left, Thames Valley opted to have Doolan take yet another penalty to close the gap, but despite getting several more infringement calls in their favour, the home side got no closer thanks to resolute Whanganui tackling, lineout pressuring, and smart clearance kicking.

Whanganui 35 (Jamie Hughes, Kameli Kuruyabaki, Te Rangatira Waitokia, Craig Clare tries; Ethan Robinson 3 pen, con, Clare 2 con) bt Thames Valley 27 (Joe Cooke, Sam van der Valk tries; Todd Doolan 5 pen, con). HT: 18-16.

2021 Heartland Championship Table
Pos.#
Team
P
W
L
D
Bpts
F
A
+/-
Pts
1
South Canterbury
8
8
0
0
8
365
124
+241
40
2
Thames Valley
8
7
1
0
5
299
148
+143
33
3
Steelform Whanganui
8
6
2
0
6
286
149
+137
30
4
North Otago
8
5
3
0
5
220
198
+22
25
5
Poverty Bay
8
4
4
0
8
263
223
+40
24
6
Mid Canterbury
8
5
3
0
4
226
209
+17
24
7
Horowhenua-Kapiti
8
5
3
0
5
214
197
+17
24
8
Ngāti Porou East Coast
8
3
5
0
8
242
258
-16
20
9
West Coast
8
3
5
0
5
181
219
-38
16
10
Wairarapa Bush
8
2
6
0
2
139
254
-115
10
11
Buller
8
0
8
0
2
126
320
-194
02
12
King Country
8
0
8
0
1
113
367
-254
01
*TIEBREAKERS:
1. Head to head result.
2. Points differential.
3. Tries scored.
4. Points scored.
5. Coin toss.

 

Thames Valley 27 - 35 Whanganui RFU

  • Saturday 6 November 2021 @ 2:00 pm
  • Heartland Championship 
  • Te Aroha
  • Referee: TIPENE COTTRELL
TR CON PEN DG
16 Dylan Gallien Roman Tutauha
17 Jack Van Bussel Hadlee Hay-Horton
18 Cade Robinson Viki Tofa
19 Semi Vodosese Peter Travis Hay-Horton
20 Timoci Seruwalu Ethan Robinson
21 Ben Whale Josh Lane
22 Craig Clare Josaia Bogileka 1 2
38
Played
30
Won
0
Drawn
8
Lost

Previous meetings

15 Aug 23 2:30 pm Representative Thames Valley v Whanganui RFU 10 - 06
14 Aug 26 2:30 pm Representative Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 11 - 15
17 Jun 59 2:30 pm Representative Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 16 - 12
14 Jun 73 2:30 pm Representative Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 15 - 12
17 Aug 76 2:30 pm NPC Div2 Thames Valley v Whanganui RFU 12 - 20
17 Sep 77 2:30 pm NPC Div2 Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 40 - 25
29 Jul 78 2:30 pm NPC Div2 Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 17 - 07
12 Sep 79 2:30 pm NPC Div2 Thames Valley v Whanganui RFU 00 - 31
19 Aug 80 2:30 pm NPC Div2 Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 20 - 06
26 Sep 81 2:30 pm NPC Div2 Thames Valley v Whanganui RFU 12 - 28
25 Jul 82 2:30 pm NPC Div2 Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 13 - 06
30 Aug 83 2:30 pm NPC Div2 Thames Valley v Whanganui RFU 13 - 23
25 Aug 84 2:30 pm NPC Div2 Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 32 - 15
19 Jul 88 2:30 pm NPC Div3 Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 12 - 31
31 Aug 91 2:30 pm NPC Div2 Thames Valley v Whanganui RFU 38 - 13
25 Sep 93 2:30 pm NPC Div3 Thames Valley v Whanganui RFU 11 - 13
02 Oct 93 2:30 pm NPC Div3 Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 30 - 14
27 Aug 94 2:30 pm NPC Div3 Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 20 - 15
12 Aug 95 2:30 pm NPC Div3 Thames Valley v Whanganui RFU 06 - 17
27 Sep 97 2:30 pm NPC Div2 Thames Valley v Whanganui RFU 05 - 17
22 Aug 98 2:30 pm NPC Div2 Thames Valley v Whanganui RFU 20 - 16
12 Sep 98 2:30 pm NPC Div2 Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 34 - 10
28 Aug 99 2:30 pm NPC Div2 Thames Valley v Whanganui RFU 13 - 35
26 Aug 00 2:30 pm NPC Div2 Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 26 - 17
29 Sep 01 2:30 pm NPC Div2 Thames Valley v Whanganui RFU 30 - 08
25 Sep 04 2:30 pm NPC Div2 Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 62 - 10
19 Aug 06 2:30 pm Heartland Championship Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 65 - 18
30 Aug 08 2:30 pm Heartland Championship Thames Valley v Whanganui RFU 00 - 43
25 Sep 10 5:00 pm Heartland Championship Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 23 - 17
20 Aug 11 5:00 pm Heartland Championship Thames Valley v Whanganui RFU 21 - 31
21 Sep 13 5:00 pm Heartland Championship Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 28 - 08
26 Sep 15 5:00 pm Heartland Championship Thames Valley v Whanganui RFU 27 - 47
01 Oct 16 5:00 pm Heartland Championship Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 60 - 14
02 Sep 17 2:30 pm Heartland Championship Thames Valley v Whanganui RFU 19 - 21
20 Oct 18 2:30 pm Heartland Championship (S/F) Meads Cup Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 07 - 17
31 Aug 19 2:30 pm Heartland Championship Whanganui RFU v Thames Valley 30 - 36
19 Oct 19 2:30 pm Heartland Championship (S/F) Meads Cup Thames Valley v Whanganui RFU 15 - 20
06 Nov 21 2:00 pm Heartland Championship Thames Valley v Whanganui RFU 27 - 35