A late penalty from first five-eighth Ben Smart gave reigning champion Clutha Valley a 29-28 win over Clutha in their match played at the Balclutha Showgrounds last weekend.

The home side started the match strongly and had the lion’s share of territory and possession in the opening stages. After going 7-0 ahead, Clutha let Valley back into the match through a well-constructed try. During the middle stages of the half both sides had a player in the sin bin, but it was Clutha which made the most of things, crossing the line twice while down a man, and went into halftime 21-12 ahead.

Clutha scored first in the second half to extend the score before Valley took control.

With 20 minutes left Valley began to retain possession well, making metres out wide and up the middle, and forcing Clutha into giving away penalties. Valley scored two unanswered tries before Smart was given the chance to put his side ahead with less than five minutes remaining. He made no mistake. Clutha also had a shot to win the match on the fulltime whistle but couldn’t convert.

Toko began its season strongly with a determined 24-7 win over an improved Owaka side at Milton. Toko was ahead 12-0 at the break but was guilty of forcing the last pass which let it down. Toko scored four tries, three of them going to its impressive backs. Owaka showed glimpses of brilliance in a much-improved performance from the previous weekend.

West Taieri continued its unbeaten start to the season with a dominant 48-24 win over Clinton, at Clinton. West Taieri produced a near-perfect first half and was ahead by 36-0 at halftime. Clinton woke up in the second half and finished the match with a gallop. It scored three unanswered tries to finish the match, but the damage had already been done.

Crescent handed Lawrence its second loss on the bounce with a 29-15 win at Lawrence. The home side opened the scoring and kept Crescent at bay for the majority of the half. Lawrence led 10-7 at halftime but could not manage to hold on to the lead as Crescent improved in the second spell. Crescent introduced players off the bench who changed the game. It scored three second half tries to take the points.

Big River Country started its season in promising fashion with a commanding 31-5 win over Alhambra-Union at the Balclutha Showgrounds. After a tight first half which saw BRC head into halftime 12-5 ahead, the floodgates opened in the second half as BRC rolled the changes and took control of the match.

It was a full team performance from the home side, which won the Charles-Pringle Challenge Cup in its inaugural outing.

For the home side, midfielder Anna Barrett and Sydney Marshall were the pick of the backs. Captain Tegan Hollows and flanker Kayley Johnson were solid in the pack.

Toko 24 (Michael Aitken, Mikal Tuari, Lockie Finch, Jared Hayes tries; Hayes 2 con) beat Owaka 7 (Leslie Alauni try; Jeremy Gray con) HT 12-0

Clutha Valley 29 (Damian Wilson, Jordan Willocks, Daymon Shanks, Lachlan Roy tries; Ben Smart 3 con, 1 pen) beat Clutha 28 (Junior Samuelu (2), Kane Teunissen, Bax Colley tries; Sam Stratford 4 con) HT 12-21

West Taieri 48 (Luke Moeke, Ben Scorgie, Brendon Tisdall, Jacob Walls, Hayden Ross, Simi Volavola, Haughton Gilbert tries; Callum Smeaton 5 con, 1 pen) beat Clinton 24 (Tom Moss (2), Brayden Campbell, Ben Witt tries; Witt 2 con) HT 36-0

Crescent 29 (Kace Shaw, Gene McHardy, Keaun Owen, Aydan Edwards tries; Luc Thomson 3 con, 1 pen) beat Lawrence 15 (Dion Muir, Byron Aitken tries; Logan Bain 1 con, 1 pen) HT 7-10

Big River Country 31 (Tegan Hollows (2), Kayley Johnson, Kate Smith, Rachael Tarson tries; Abby Agnew 3 con) beat Alhambra-Union 5 (Grace Hastie try) HT 12-5