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Athletic jumped to an early lead but Valley's magnificent forward pack dictated terms for the rest of the game.
There was a thriller at Kurow, where a depleted Maheno side showed great courage to win 41-40 after trailing by 10 points at halftime.
Excelsior nearly caused a boilover in Oamaru but unbeaten Old Boys did enough to cling on for a 26-23 win.