A rainy start for first games

It may have been the opening round of the year, but the weather was in mid-season form as rain plagued round one of the Citizens Shield on Saturday.

Defending champions Valley won their 13th straight game with a nail-biting 22-20 win over Old Boys.

Excelsior and Athletic Marist had successful trips to the countryside, beating Kurow and Maheno respectively.

Valley began their 2024 campaign the same way 2023 ended: in dramatic fashion.

They were trailing 20-15 in the final five minutes and were camped inside the Old Boys 22m.

Their forwards rolled up their sleeves and carried hard with pick-and-go after pick-and-go.

The Old Boys defence eventually cracked as Sam Sturgess burrowed over for his second try of the game and Isaac Clunie knocked over the conversion to put Valley in front.

While the clock at the ground read five minutes to go, the ref had only a few seconds, and once Valley secured the kick-off, they booted it into touch for the win.

Valley had held a one-point lead at halftime but Old Boys came firing out of the gates in the second forty.

Inoke Fisilau kicked a penalty to give them the lead before a remarkable long-range try gave them a buffer.

An errant Valley kick allowed Old Boys to counter-attack.

Fisilau found some space on the left wing and dashed away from the defence.

With one to beat, he drew in the final man and found Mavaetangi Finau who had enough pace to cross the line.

Valley hit back as Sturgess scored off the back of an impressive rolling maul.

Fisilau added another three points minutes later to set up the grandstand finish.

Excelsior held off a valiant second half from the Red Devils to win 26-20 in Kurow.

Blues held a 19-7 lead at the break before the home side came charging back with 13 unanswered points to take the lead.

But it was all in vain as Blues ran in their fourth try of the game to secure the win.

Maheno hosted Athletic Marist in the final game of the round.

The home side struck first through Jacob Day before Athies scored two of their own tries.

A second Maheno try to Jack Cameron and a penalty from Robbie Smith meant they trailed by just one at the break.

Two more penalty kicks from Smith in the second half were not enough as Osea Qamasea scored his second try to Hateni Tafolo kicked a penalty to give Athies a 24-19 win.