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HOME SEMI IN SIGHTS

THAMESVALLEYvsPOVERTY

4th October 2014

THAMES VALLEY vs POVERTY BAY

@ Paeroa

POVERTY Bay secured a place in the Heartland Championship top-four playoffs with a hard-fought 17-9 win against Thames Valley at Paeroa on Saturday.

The Bay, second on the table, will seal a Meads Cup home semifinal if they draw with or beat Horowhenua Kapiti here on Saturday.

“It’s all on this weekend,” Bay coach Mutu Ngarimu said. “A home semifinal is in our own hands but Horowhenua Kapiti are coming here knowing if they win they get the home semi. Both teams have everything to play for and Horowhenua Kapiti showed they’re no mugs when they beat South Canterbury (joint fourth) at the weekend.

Buller sealed the No.1 spot in beating West Coast 29-24 but Ngarimu said he and player-assistant coach Rico Gear were more than happy with the semifinal-sealing win.

“A real positive for us was our defence, which has been a concern, and the fact that we didn’t pick up any injuries. Our D was excellent and a huge step up.”

Ngarimu — as he has done all season — played down the prospect of winning the Meads Cup.

“The first thing we want to do is secure that home semi. The whole focus this week at training will be on Horowhenua Kapiti,” he said.

Bay winger Henry Bridge opened the scoring with a try only for Valley first five-eighth David Harrsion to reply with a penalty in an arm-wrestle of a first half that ended 5-3.

Poverty Bay were always ahead, adding second-half tries to tighthead prop Seymour Lambert and second five-eighth Moss Doran — both converted by Clayton Kiwara. But Harrison kept his side menacingly close with two penalties.

The visitors thought they had picked up a bonus point when Lambert was driven across the line for his second try only for the sideline official to rule he was held up.

Ngarimu said Sione Ngatu, playing his 122nd game for the province but first as a loosehead prop, was outstanding.

“He was our player of the day. He more than held his own in the front row and gave us something extra with his ball-carrying and commitment on defence. Cowboy (flanker Brent Ingram) and Jake (No.8 Paringatai) were also huge on D.

“We wanted the players to get off their line, tackle and knock their big ball runners over and there’s nobody better at doing that in this championship than Cowboy. With Jake doing the same, others are now following their example.

“Ken Houkamau was another who put his hand up for a starting place next week and the guys who came on — particularly Paddy Allen, Corban Barbara, Russell Burns and Campbell Chrisp — added value to the team.

“That’s one of the reasons we’ve done so well this year. Our bench players are all making impacts. They’ve given Rico and me a few headaches when it comes to selections.”

One man they will have to do without this weekend is powerhouse centre TK Moeke, who is unavailable.

“I’m hoping we’ll have Rico back again,” Ngarimu said. “He could have played against Thames Valley but we didn’t want to risk any more damage to his hamstring strain.”

Ngarimu said from what he had seen of Horowhenua Kapiti on television, they had a big pack who were strong at set pieces and a mobile loose trio including former Gisborne Boys’ High first 15 player Lennon Carrington.

“We can be proud of what we’ve achieved, getting ourselves into a position to get a home semi, but the job’s not done yet. This is another big game for us and we’re hoping the fans turn out to support us.”

THAMES VALLEY 9 (David Harrison 3 pen).
POVERTY BAY 17 (Henry Bridge, Seymour Lambert, Moss Doran tries; Clayton Kiwara con).

HT: 5-3 (Poverty Bay).

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