By Justin Miezenbeek
A wave of Deja-Vu swept across Mill Street in Hamilton on Saturday as Te Awamutu Sports played outstanding first half rugby to lead 21-10 only to fall 24-42 to Fraser Tech in Waikato Premier Rugby.
Much like the last three weeks, Sports played the roles of both Jekyll and Hyde in another torrid encounter, wilting late in the game in the face of endless pressure from the top 4 side.
The injury plagued Sports side made the worst start possible, letting in an early try beside the post to trail early but soon showed some steel and exploited a mistake from the Tech defence, who while waiting for the ball to go over the dead ball line, failed to account for Winger Maxime Laforgue flying through and scored under the hosts feet. The game tied at 7-7.
Shortly after, a delicately placed chip from pivot Clayton Stewart saw a flying Maseiga Teomatavui pluck the ball and work close to the Tech try line, with Laforgue crossing in the corner for his second, ably converted from wide out by Evaan Reihana for a 14-7 lead.
Not to be outdone by his wing counterpart, Teomatavui found himself in space down the right flank, an in and out swerve and shuddering fend later and he was crossing beside the posts, converted by Reihana and an impressive 21-7 lead. Tech were stung into action laid siege to the Te Awamutu tryline, which they were able to hold firm and take that lead into the break.
Tech were on the ropes and needed to score first in the second half. They came out swinging but were repelled by Sports, who absorbed the pressure then worked themselves into Tech territory where Reihana chipped another goal to extend the lead to 24-7.
But from there, the cracks began to show as the tired Sports side tried to keep pace with the fresh legs Tech kept wheeling out. Tech chipped their way into the deficit over the next 15 minutes with three tries to take the lead back 27-24 when perhaps a telling moment took place. Sports got their hands on some ball finally and worked down inside the 22 which saw replacement Centre Rob Gurnett find space and gun for the tryline, only to be denied by a double movement call in placing the ball, a try which may have invigorated Sports missed and Tech made them pay from the ensuing penalty, crossing again to extend the lead to 32-24. Two more tries in the final minutes blew the score out
Laforgue showed his wares returning from injury with two tries and dangerous in space and young Josh Reynolds was impressive on his return, playing at flanker. Jono Armstrong and Matthew Towers again got through an incredible amount of work and a special mention to Shaun Rumbles and Dean Scott who made their starting debuts in the front row.
Sports focus now turns to the Championship, making sure they finish first or second to ensure their Premier status for next season.