Old Golds set for Thames Valley clash

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North Otago will take on Thames Valley in Paeroa tomorrow in week five of the Heartland Championship in a must-win clash.

The Old Golds currently sit eighth on the points table, with a solitary win coming in week two over Poverty Bay at the Whitestone Contracting Stadium, and three losses against Buller (17-9), Wanganui (20-15) and King Country (17-14).

In stark contrast, Thames Valley have yet to suffer defeat this season with a 19-19 stalemate in week one against Horowhenua Kapiti before notching three successive wins over King Country (15-10), Mid Canterbury (20-15) and East Coast (21-8).

North Otago coach Mike Mullins said he expects a similar style of play from Thames Valley as previous opponents this season.

“Much of the same play that we have seen from our previous opposition teams,” he said.

“Big forward pack, with a large midfield back-line to get them go forward ball.”

Mullins said the long journey will not affect his side’s performance and expects threats from all areas of the paddock.

“We look to prepare as well as we can whether we are travelling or playing at home, travel is part of the competition,” he said.

“Not really targeting any specific player. All 15 opposition players are a threat while they are on the field.”

North Otago;

Palenapa Mafi, Ralph Darling, Rob Mafileo, Sale Pii, Don Lolo, Josh Clark  (capt),

Manu Taiti, Samisoni Tongotongo, Robbie Smith, Ben Palmer, Tenina Sauileoge,

Ekeroma Sauileoge, Lemi Masoe, Simeli Koniferedi, Brad Mckenzie,

Thomas Shields, Hayden Tisdall, Sione Teu, Matt Duff, Cameron Keenan,

Stephen Fenemor, Joe Marston.

Turn to page 39 for the Heartland Championship points table.

Heartland Championship week five fixtures;

Thames Valley v North Otago, Paeroa, 2:00pm.

Wanganui v East Coast, Wanganui, 2:30pm.

Horowhenua Kapiti v Wairarapa Bush, Levin, 2:30pm.

King Country v West Coast, Taupo, 2:30pm.

Mid Canterbury v Buller, Ashburton, 2:30pm.

South Canterbury v Poverty Bay, Timaru, 2:30pm.

By JAMES FORD

PHOTO: BRAYDEN LINDSAY – North Otago’s solitary victory this season came in week two against Poverty Bay. Pictured is Soloman T-Pole on the run during North Otago’s 43-34 win over Poverty Bay at the Whitestone Contracting Stadium.