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Locking it down . . . Kurow lock Harvard Fale has team-mate Jason Angland in support as he charges downfield against Old Boys at Kurow last Saturday. Old Boys lock Paea Ala does his best to keep up. PHOTO: TIM MEEHAN

THE WRAP
Three games that carried a lot of meaning or three games that were, well, just another three games?

We might need to wait till the end of the season to find out.

There was nearly the result every club not called Old Boys was hoping for, but eventually the runaway Citizens Shield leaders made it eight straight with a 38-24 win at Kurow.

The country boys were right in it, leading by five with 15 minutes to play, but Old Boys came home with a wet sail.

There was certainly a momentous result at Maheno, where Valley continued its decent run with a 22-15 win over a home side missing both Smith brothers.

Maheno has been up and down, for various reasons, this season, and it will want to make sure it does not slip in the second half of the season.

Valley, meanwhile, is being led by its superb forward pack and has a real chance to stage a semifinal bid in the coming weeks.

In town, Athletic Marist beat Excelsior 32-28 in an error-riddled game that never reached any great heights.

At least there were two moments of brilliance in the first half when Athies backs Ross Lewis and second five Mason Kinzett scored lovely tries.

There was also an entertaining finish as Blues led by a point with 10 minutes to play, Athies scored two quick tries to take control, and Excelsior nabbed a bonus point on the buzzer.

TALKING POINT
Rumours, rumours, rumours.

The Oamaru Mail is a responsible newspaper that doesn’t trade in rumour .. but what the heck.

We hear that two key members of the North Otago forward pack last season are soon to join the Citizens Shield.

Lock-flanker Josh Clark might be turning up in a Maheno jersey, having previously represented the club.

And the really juicy rumour is that dynamic No8 Mika Mafi, on the outer in Otago, is coming to play for Blues.

Watch this space.

Away we go . . . Valley No 8 Jake Greenslade looks to spark an attack in front of Maheno defender Marcus Balchin at Maheno. PHOTO: PHIL JANSSEN

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Old Boys co-coach Ralph Darling produced one of his best games in a long time to inspire the heavyweights to victory up the valley.

Fellow front-rower Meli Kolinisau was the cornerstone of Valley’s effort at Maheno.

Loose forward Junior Fakatoufifita had his best game of the season for Athletic Marist, while Excelsior centre Antonio Misiloi showed what he can do when he pursues the ball.

COACH’S CALL
“Very happy with that. We were short on troops with injuries and work commitments, and Kurow are always tough at home. The boys dug deep.

“We’re happy with our progress so far. We’re learning week by week and just trying to stay a step ahead of everybody else.” – Ralph Darling (Old Boys)

PRESIDENT’S GRADE
Just one game this round as Athletic Marist defaulted to Kurow. Union capped a great club day at Ngapara with a 43-17 win over Excelsior.

THIS WEEK
On paper at least, three games that are reasonably easy to predict – so I’ve done my bit for the underdogs.

Old Boys play Maheno at the stadium, Kurow hosts Athletic Marist, and Valley plays Excelsior at Weston.

Citizens Shield
Round 8 scores
Athletic Marist 32 (Ross Lewis 2, Mason Kinzett, Aisake Fonua, Junior Fakatoufifita tries; Kinzett con; Simon Lilicama con, pen), Excelsior 28 (James Pillay, Kwaye Raumati, Isaac Shields tries; Kayne Middleton 2 con, 3 pen). Halftime: Athletic Marist 17-10.
Old Boys 38 (Ralph Darling 2, Soni Tongotongo, Lemi Masoe, Filipo Veamatahau, Anthony Amato tries; Inoke Naufahu 4 con), Kurow 24(Harvard Fale 2, Jason Angland, Tyler Burgess, tries; Burgess 2 con). Halftime: Old Boys 19-10.
Valley 22 (Logan Dunlop, Meli Kolinisau, Cameron Rowland tries; Brad McKenzie 2 con, pen), Maheno 15 (Forrest Beer, Jake Day tries; Sam Tatupu con, pen). Halftime: Valley 8-5.

Player points
Athletic Marist v Excelsior
1 – Junior Fakatoufifita (AM)
1 – Simon Lilicama (AM)
1 – Ross Lewis (AM)
1 – Antonio Misiloi (E)
1 – Isaac Shields (E)
1 – Jamie Rhodes (E)
Old Boys v Kurow
2 – Ralph Darling (OB)
1 – Filipo Veamatahau (OB)
1 – Lemi Masoe (OB)
1 – Michael Paterson (K)
1 – Ben Nowell (K)
Valley v Maheno
2 – Meli Kolinisau (V)
1 – Dylan Edwards (V)
1 – Matt Cowie (V)
1 – Marcus Balchin (M)
1 – Brenton Scott (M)