Only one team stands in the way of a perfect start to the season for Valley.
After beating Maheno 33-19 in Weston last Saturday, Valley just needs to beat Old Boys to remain undefeated after the first round.
The repeat of last year’s Citizens Shield final got off to a horror start as Valley winger Pierre Tournaire dislocated his hip 10 minutes in. He was airlifted to Dunedin Hospital, and was receiving further scans this week.
As the game moved to another field, Valley struggled to find its rhythm, but still went into the break leading 14-7.
Maheno won the physicality battle in the first 40 minutes, and first five-eighth Lachie Kingan stepped his way through defence to score a try.
At the break, Valley coach Glen Sturgess asked his players to step up and want the win, or Maheno would take the game from them.
“[Maheno] played really hard. We were still in the game, but we hadn’t really fired any shots,” Sturgess said.
“We know we are a better team than we were in the first half. It was our first home game and we had to make a statement, and turn that ground into a fortress and that’s what we’ve done.”
Valley came out with a point to prove and was on the scoreboard early in the second half.
It followed up with two more tries and, in turn, restricted Maheno’s opportunities.
Tighthead prop Meli Kolinisau took the game by the “scruff of the neck” and English halfback Owen Davey was accurate with the boot.
Davey and first-five eighth Jake Matthews ushered the side around the field, and helped influence the game.
Sturgess said it was pleasing to see them step up in the game’s tight moments. There was a glimpse of their combination the week before against Kurow, but it really shone against Maheno.
“We just needed a lot of direction and those two boys are really starting to link together well and directed us around the park.
“We’ve got a really good forward pack and having those two just working really well off each other means the whole team starts to mix together really well.”
The coaching team was thrilled with Valley’s second-half performance, he said.
“Every player was looking each other in the eye and standing up together. At the end of the day, that’s what it came down to – we were fighting for each other and we worked well as a team.”
At Whitestone Contracting Centennial Park, Old Boys beat Athletic Marist 40-14.
Halfback Mataitini Feke is in sublime try-scoring form this season, and grabbed another two against Athies. Levi Atiga also scored a double.
On the back field, Kurow beat Excelsior 38-14 in its first away game of the season. In the muddy encounter, Kurow players were quick to every breakdown, immediately over the ball.
Kurow was forced to defend for 10 minutes at its own tryline, but its persistence and strength on the ball enabled it to deny the Blues the chance to score.
Maheno celebrates its 125th jubilee today and tomorrow – and the men in green and black are taking on Excelsior.
Both teams are coming off the back of losses which will make for a fierce contest as they play for the 75th Muldrew Cup.
Maheno and Excelsior always had a strong affiliation. During World War 2, Maheno struggled for numbers so it combined with Excelsior for a couple of seasons.
When the war was over, Ruth Muldrew “put the cup up” in remembrance of her husband Jock, and the connection between the clubs during those years.
The first game was played at the Maheno Domain in 1946, and bragging rights went to Excelsior with a narrow 11-10 victory.
There is also a “golden oldies” match before hand. Watch out for some familiar “experienced” players taking to the field.
Meanwhile, Valley takes on Old Boys at Whitestone Contracting Stadium.
Both teams will come in with confidence off last week’s wins, and Valley will be seeking to maintain its winning run.
Old Boys has a big physical forward pack, and a dangerously quick backline. Valley will be looking to shut down it down early.
“We’re just going to ask from our boys that they’re physical,” Sturgess said.
“We’re going to build on what we’ve achieved . . . and that’ll do the trick.”
Athies will play Kurow at Whitestone Contracting Centennial Park.
Kurow looked strong last weekend, and will be bringing its best. Athies will be hungry for its first win.