Clutha Valley hangs on to win intense low-scoring final

Clutha Valley celebrate their victory over Clutha Steamers in the Southern Region Rugby Final in...
Clutha Valley celebrate their victory over Clutha Steamers in the Southern Region Rugby Final in Balclutha on Saturday. PHOTO: NICK BROOK
Clutha Valley claimed consecutive Southern Region titles with a 9-5 win over Clutha in an intense final at the Balclutha Showgrounds on Saturday.

Valley held on to possession for large periods of time in a scoreless first half but never really troubled the Clutha line.

The defending champion kicked well behind the Clutha defence but could not capitalise on its territorial advantage as key mistakes and offensive penalties gave Clutha numerous chances to clear.

The momentum swung in favour of Clutha midway through the first half when Valley first five Thomas Johnson received a yellow card after a team warning.

Clutha achieved some handy attacking positions but was held out by tenacious Valley defence, resulting the sides being deadlocked 0-0 at halftime.

Johnson finally opened the scoring with a penalty but Clutha then scored the only try of the final. The home side challenged the kick off, turned the ball over and scored in the corner through winger Kane Teunissen.

Johnson put Valley back in the lead from the tee with another penalty from 35m out.

Valley was then reduced to 14 men again as replacement hooker Jack Pringle sat down after foul play at the ruck.

Clutha produced wave after wave of attack, only to be held out by Valley’s committed defence.

The return of Pringle, and another penalty to Johnson, gave Valley the boost it needed to hold on despite Clutha asking plenty of questions towards the end of the match.

Clutha had its chances and created some gaps but often opted for a skip pass instead of a simple draw-and-pass similar to when Teunissen had scored.

The victorious Valley side was led up front by flanker Liam Turnbull, who secured some key turnovers and hardly looked like missing a tackle.

The halves combination of Johnson and Jared Edwards controlled the match well, especially given the lack of attacking ball in the second half.

Clutha looked like scoring more points, but key decisions and wayward goal-kicking was costly yet again.

Lock Tate Colley had a storming first half. Colley carried strongly, tackled well and was a key component of Clutha’s defensive lineout.

Midfielders Paul Papalii and Sylvester Reeves were dangerous on attack, both making metres at will, while Simon Grant and Kerrod Baldwin added energy and physicality off the bench.


Southern Region final

The scores

Clutha Valley                            9
Thomas Johnson 3 pen

Clutha                                        5
Kane Teunissen try
Halftime: 0-0


--  Francis Parker



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