After a high-scoring third round on Saturday, the country clubs are leading the Citizens Shield standings.
Valley and Maheno could not be separated – finishing with a 25-25 draw. Old Boys reminded its competitors what it is capable of with a 66-23 demolition of Excelsior, and Kurow withstood a late fightback from Athletic Marist to win 34-23.
Valley, through a try to Jake Greenslade, drew first blood in a back-and-forth clash at the Maheno Domain.
Maheno hit back with a penalty to Robbie Smith and a try to Hayden Tisdall, but Valley replied with tries to Ben Paton and Junior Fakatoufifita, taking a 15-10 lead into halftime.
Maheno scored two tries in the second half, and looked to have the game sewn up with a scrum feed close to its own line right on full time.
But a huge Valley scrum caused a duffed clearance kick, and captain Cameron Rowland pounced on the loose ball to score in the final play.
Then Paton landed the tough conversion from out wide to salvage a draw.
Both teams could argue they deserved something more from an entertaining game, and it would not be a surprise to see a rematch in the finals.
Valley’s Fakatoufifita cemented his spot as the form player of the competition, and Paton showed great composure and had some classy touches in general play. Smith and Nick McLennan were top performers for the home side.
Whitestone Contracting Stadium hosted two games on Saturday – Kurow and Athletic Marist on the main field, and Old Boys and Excelsior on the back field.
Kurow led 12-6 at halftime, then piled on 22 unanswered points in the first part of the second half to stretch the lead to 34-6.
Athletic Marist started to play with freedom in the final 20 minutes, and a flurry of tries to Mosese Aho, Jared Whitburn and rapid winger Malakai Tohi gave them some hope.
The organised Kurow held on to get the win, but if Athletic Marist can bottle that 15 minutes of brilliance, it could upset a few teams later in the season.
Excelsior’s tough season continued as Old Boys piled on the 45 points in a second half rout.
Excelsior managed to field a full team, but a lack of cohesion showed.
However, first five Josh Phipps, who managed two tries, impressed.
Old Boys played the sort of rugby it is known for – running the ball from all parts of the field and offloading at every opportunity. Some of the tries were outrageous efforts from deep in their own half, with great handling and support play. Sione Asi and Toni Taufa were physical in the forwards and halfback Inoke Naufahu nailed some difficult conversions.
This week’s matches will have a massive bearing on the table.
Kurow hosts Maheno at 2.30pm. The home side has gone under the radar a little, but a win here would provide a lot of belief it can go all the way.
At 2.45pm, Valley hosts Old Boys.
At Whitestone Contracting Stadium, winless Excelsior and Athletic Marist will be looking to get some points on the table.
Citizen’s Shield round 3 scores
Kurow 34 (Nicholas Bird, Tyler Burgess, Dean Fenwick, Sam Fleming, Josh Reid, Angus Norrie tries; Burgess con, Sam McDonald con), Athletic Marist 23 (Mosese Aho, Jared Whitburn, Malakai Tohi tries; Blake James con; Mason Kinzett 2 pen)
Maheno 25 (Nick McLennan, Sam Tatupu, Hayden Tisdall tries; Robbie Smith 2 con, 2 pen), Valley 25 (Junior Fakatoufifita, Jake Greenslade, Cameron Rowland, Ben Paton tries; Paton pen, con)
Old Boys 66 (Paea Ala 2, Ilaitia Tahitu’a 2, Sione Asi, Ralph Darling, Mataitini Feke, Toni Taufa, Suliasi Tui’vailala, Inoke Naufahu tries; Naufahu 7 con, Raymond Vea con), Excelsior 23 (Josh Phipps 2, Tayne Russell tries; Phipps con, pen)