Saturday was a day of firsts for Asesela Ravuvu.
It was the St Kevin’s College pupil’s first time playing on the wing, first time visiting the West Coast, and first time playing for North Otago.
To top it off, Ravuvu (18) scored the Old Golds’ closing try in its 42-29 win against Buller — the team’s first win in Westport in 10 years.
He darted past both his opposing winger and fullback to dot down for the Old Golds and Ravuvu said the moment was ‘‘pretty special’’.
Coach Jason Forrest called Ravuvu into training last week, due to injuries and other players’ commitments, and he grabbed the opportunity.
‘‘I wasn’t even expecting to play, I just thought it was a training thing,’’ Ravuvu said.
‘‘I was pretty nervous too . . . [but] it was a really good opportunity playing for North Otago — it was pretty unreal.’’
Having played pre-season matches for Maheno, he was familiar with some North Otago players, but they were all very supportive in ‘‘telling me what to do’’.
Ravuvu, who was part of a Highlanders school camp earlier this month, said shifting from playing centre to wing was different, but he enjoyed the experience.
He would continue training for North Otago and hoped to get the opportunity to play again this season.
Forrest said he knew what Ravuvu was capable of, and the ‘‘big, strong school kid’’ impressed on debut.
‘‘He did really, really well. He thoroughly deserved to be in there and have a crack, and he put his hand up,’’ Forrest said.
‘‘He’s certainly right up for selection again this week.’’
South Canterbury and Thames Valley are now top of the Heartland table, having won six from six so far this season. North Otago sits in a three-way tie for third on 20 points with Mid Canterbury and Whanganui.
Tomorrow, the Gold Golds come up against Whanganui, in Whanganui. It will be a big game, with third spot, and home advantage for the Lochore Cup, on the line.
The home side will be hurting after losing 28-14 to South Canterbury last weekend, and Forrest expected them to come out ‘‘firing’’.
‘‘It’s pretty simple. Our season’s in our own hands now, really,’’ Forrest said.
‘‘Mathematically, we can still make the top two. Realistically, Thames Valley and South Canterbury have an easy game left.
‘‘We are targeting trying to get third to be fair, and a home final for the Lochore Cup is realistically what we’re looking for right now.’’