Two semi-thrillers and yet another bonus-point win for the runaway Citizens Shield leader.
The game of the round was at Whitestone Contracting Stadium, where second-placed Valley withstood a furious Athletic Marist finish to clinch a hugely significant 24-22 win.
Valley led 11-0 early but Athies scored a couple of cracking tries to lead 19-14 at the break.
The lead changed three times in a tight second half, and Valley had to show huge courage to withstand a rampant opposition in the final minutes. Valley now has a very handy 10-point buffer in the race for second, while Athletic Marist, improbably, is now bottom.
Kurow built on the momentum of its breakthrough win to post another one straight away, beating Excelsior 30-26.
Two things are clear after that result: Kurow is back, with a vengeance; and there is going to be an almighty dogfight for semifinal spots in the coming weeks – just three points cover the teams placed third to sixth.
At Maheno, in the second rematch of last year’s Citizens Shield final, Old Boys won 41-10.
Both sides felt it was a closer contest than that. But if you make mistakes, and cough up the ball, Old Boys are utterly ruthless.
A couple of numbers to crunch:
Old Boys have scored 310 points through seven games. That’s an average of 44 points per game. Yowzers.
Check out the points difference of the six teams. Five of them are in the negatives. One is plus-239. Staggering.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Let’s be generous and call it a three-way tie.
Valley’s Dan Lewis won the battle of the classy first fives against Athletic Marist, Tyler Burgess continued his excellent form for Kurow, and the unstoppable Siosiua Ngalo scored another brace of tries for Old Boys.
“That was another really tough game. It was a lot closer than the score reflected. Our ability to score long-range tries is definitely getting us over the line.” – Ralph Darling (Old Boys)
Defending champion Valley opened its campaign with a solid 52-10 win over Athletic. Cory Cunningham scored two tries and was player of the day, and Marc Fox converted six of his team’s eight tries.
Sadly, that was the only game played. Old Boys did not make it up to Kurow.
Now this could be a really fascinating round.
It’s 1 v 2 at Weston, where resurgent Valley will hope its good form can get even better to give Old Boys a bit of a shake.
Athletic Marist will be wary of Kurow’s bid for a third straight win at the stadium, and Excelsior v Maheno on the back ground is too close to call.