Two entertaining tryfests and one old-fashioned arm-wrestle on a greasy pitch.
The result of the round was at Kurow, where the home side’s (minor) form slump continued with a rough 52-17 loss to Valley.
Kurow was down on numbers, and it is still a good chance to host a semifinal, but it has lost four of its last six and needs to rediscover its mojo.
Valley, meanwhile, just rolls on.
That made it six straight wins for Valley, which arguably lacks the sheer talent of some of the other clubs but has found the perfect formula to harness its forward strength, discipline and defensive intensity.
A minute’s silence was held before the game, and armbands worn during it, following the death of Craig Porter, father of Kurow back Jesse.
In town, Maheno escaped with a 15-10 win over Excelsior in slippery conditions on the back ground.
Maheno led 8-0 at the break, Excelsior scored two tries to lead by two with three minutes to play, and Maheno prop Kieran Byrne rumbled over for the winning try.
Blues dominated up front but they do not know how to put teams away, while Maheno showed for a third straight week it can win in the clutch.
In the final game, Old Boys rebounded from its first loss of the season with a 52-24 tonking of Athletic Marist.
Three games to go until the playoffs, so this is all we will talk about every week.
Old Boys have officially clinched the minor premiership AGAIN, so can cruise into the playoffs.
At the other end of the table, Excelsior has officially bowed out of the playoff race, and it needs a miracle to avoid the wooden spoon.
Athies, too, are all but gone, needing to win out and hope either Maheno or Valley loses all remaining games.
It’s in the middle where we could have plenty of interest.
Kurow’s lead in the race for second is down to five points, and Valley and Maheno are tied for third.
Any of the three country clubs could host a semifinal, so watch this space.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Maheno captain Hayden Tisdall was at his all-action best in the bunfight with Blues, while Robbie Smith delivered when his team needed him most.
Two props – Kelepi Funaki (Old Boys) and Meli Kolinisau (Valley – had big games, and Junior Fakatoufifita did what he could for Athies by scoring a hat trick.
There was a welcome return for Valley by first five-eighth Dan Lewis, who got 20 minutes in his comeback from injury, and a return to Old Boys colours by former Old Golds lock Taua Limuloa.
“That wasn’t our most polished performance but we did enough to win. The loss to Valley wasn’t the worst thing to happen. It put our feet back on the ground and forced us to pay a little bit more attention to detail. We’re tracking along OK but we have some big games ahead so we just taking things one week at a time.” – Ralph Darling (Old Boys)
Another weekend with just one game, as Athletic Marist could not field a team against Kurow.
Union, which loaned its opponent three players, beat Excelsior 24-25.
The big clash this weekend is Union v Kurow at Ngapara.
Nicely symmetrical – it’s 1 (Old Boys) v 2 (Kurow), 3 (Valley) v 4 (Maheno), and 5 (Athletic Marist) v 6 (Excelsior).
Round 12 scores
Maheno 15 (Levi Emery, Kieran Byrne tries; Emery con, pen), Excelsior 10 (Mika Mafi, Antonio Misiloi tries). Halftime: Maheno 8-0.
Old Boys 52 (Ralph Darling 2, Anthony Amato 2, Taani Vaitohi, Sale Pi’i, Kelepi Funaki, Sione Halalele tries; Inoke Naufahu 6 con), Athletic Marist 24 (Junior Fakatoufifita 3, Timoti Hanipale tries; Mason Kinzett con, Simon Lilicama con). Halftime: Old Boys 24-12.
Valley 52 (Matt Cowie 2, Logan Dunlop, Jake Greenslade, Glen Sturgess, Colin McKay, Matthew Vocea, Brad Fleming tries; Sturgess 5 con, Dan Lewis con), Kurow 17(Petelo Pouhila, Sam Fleming, Brad Ferguson tries; Tyler Burgess con). Halftime: Valley 21-0.
Maheno v Excelsior
2 – Hayden Tisdall (M)
1 – Kieran Byrne (M)
1 – Robbie Smith (M)
1 – Mika Mafi (E)
1 – Frank Kelly (E)
Old Boys v Athletic Marist
2 – Kelepi Funaki (OB)
1 – Don Lolo (OB)
1 – Sale Pi’i (OB)
1 – Junior Fakatoufifita (AM)
1 – Mason Kinzett (AM)
Valley v Kurow
2 – Meli Kolinisau (V)
1 – Cedric Laurent (V)
1 – Brad Fleming (V)
1 – Sam Sturgess (V)
1 – Jesse Porter (K)