Te Awamutu Sports started their promotion-relegation rugby campaign with a clinical 31-22 bonus point victory over Morrinsville. Saturday’s triumph at Albert Park has the home team sitting just one win away from cementing their status in the Waikato premier division. Both teams were desperate to get an early win under their belt.
Sports played the blustery conditions better, especially in the second half, with man of the match Raroa Lord’s boot proving to be a determining factor. Lord got the scoring underway with a tough penalty shot before Morrinsville evened the ledger. Sports then spent an extended period of time on attack, with only spirited defence holding the hosts out from taking the lead. Eventually the weight of possession told when livewire halfback Dion Spice scooted around the edge of a ruck and crashed over for the opening try.
Sports undid all their good work by letting in a soft try to halfback Jayden Watene which went unconverted to leave the score at 10-8 to the hosts. Flanker Cameron Petch pressured a slow Morrinsville clearance, resulting in prop Andrew Solo pouncing on the charge-down to stretch the lead to 15-8. Again Sports went off the boil, letting the opposition run in a long range try right on the stroke of halftime for a 15-15 scoreline. Tensions were rising during the break with the game tied up and neither team really dominant.
Sports played smart, controlled rugby when the wind turned into the scoreboard corner. Plugging the corners to gain territory resulted in two crucial penalties to Lord, giving Sports a 21-15 lead. The forwards lifted another gear that the visitors couldn’t match and holes started to appear. Winger Apimaleki Mocekula finished off a sweeping move that gave Sports some breathing room at 26-15 before hooker Jack Munce capped off a fine game with a try in the corner to seal the deal with 10 minutes to play.
The visitors did get some reward with a try in the final act of the game, but it only masked the fact that Sports were by far the better team on the day. Lord stepped up in a big way, kicking vital goals in testing conditions and playing the territory game with the wind behind him, while Munce was a force with the ball in hand and on defence. Young Josh Reynolds played a great hand stepping into the locking role, strong in the lineouts and tough in the tight.
Andrew Solo celebrated his 30th blazer game in style with a try and some huge contact in defence. Sports next fixture is in Flagstaff to take on Eastern Suburbs, looking to carry on the good work and finish the season on a high.