An injury-hit Te Awamutu Sports Firehawks premier rugby league team showed admirable courage and determination to win their local derby against Otorohanga Tigers 32-22. The Kirstie McGrail-sponsored Firehawks led 16-0 at halftime at the Island Reserve in Otorohanga on Saturday.
Highlight of the opening 40 minutes was a hat-trick of tries to winger Zekyl Aperehama, who made a habit of beating his opposite on the outside and using what little room he had available to dot down in the corner. Henare Raukawa added two conversions. Otorohanga started well in front of a parochial hometown crowd, but too many unforced errors limited their scoring opportunities in the first half.
Any scoring opportunities that did arise were met with solid defence from the Firehawks. The second half was a different story, Otorohanga managed to retain possession and score a total of 22 points. The Firehawks ran in a further three tries to Tawhiri Howell, Raukawa and Brent Sargent. Howell’s try showed his strength, breaking through the defence 15 metres out and carrying three players across the line to score.
Raukawa converted two of the three second half tries. Firehawks coach, Kane Rangitonga was philosophical about the win. “We started the game with no reserves and, when we suffered injuries in the second half, finished up playing the last 15 minutes with 11 players. I was proud of the boys’ defence in the last quarter when Otorohanga threw everything at us. We made them work for their points and when we had the opportunity with the ball, we came away with points.”
Firehawks play Hauraki Tigers in their last game at home this Saturday at 2.30pm. A win will confirm Firehawks’ placing in the top five to have a chance of winning back to back Waikato Rugby League Championships over the next month.