Rugby: Thames Valley edge South Canterbury to claim Meads Cup

Thames Valley have lifted the Meads Cup for the first time, with a hard-fought 17-12 win over South Canterbury at Alpine Energy Stadium in Timaru.

The victory completed an unlikely run to the silverware for the 'Swamp Foxes', who were forced to win twice on the road, after qualifying fourth for the finals.

It's the first time the province has won the title, snapping a 13-year losing streak in Timaru.

The contest's opening quarter featured plenty of end-to-end action, as the teams traded blows - a 13th minute Thames Valley penalty was the only difference on the scoreboard.

The hosts were the first to cross the chalk through number eight Loni Toumohuni, who bulldozed his way over from a close-range set-piece, after being denied just moments earlier by desperation Thames Valley defence.

Ten minutes later, South Canterbury extended their lead, after fullback Rico Syme ghosted into a gap and put winger Kalavini Leatigaga over in the corner.

Leatigaga almost had a second try as the clock ticked down to half-time, pouncing on a crossfield kick and dashing 70 metres down the sideline, before he was cut down by the cover defence.

Despite territory and possession being evenly shared through the opening 40 minutes, South Canterbury took a 12-3 advantage into the break.

Thames Valley opened the second-half scoring, with captain Brett Ranga on hand to put the finishing touches on a superbly crafted team try to close the margin to two points.

The Swamp Foxes then regained the lead with only 12 minutes remaining, as prop Sergio de la Fuente burrowed over from a ruck to give his side a five-point buffer.

They held on through a tense final stanza, withstanding a late South Canterbury assault to clinch an historic win.