By Justin Miezenbeek
Te Awamutu Sports did enough to win a tight, hotly contested match against Morrinsville Sports 26-19 and maintain top spot in the Waikato Championship.
At 19-19 with only seconds remaining, a draw seemed the most likely outcome but fullback Josh Moorby sparked a length of the field movement that resulted in skipper Matthew Towers crossing to seal the win in the dying seconds.
Sports opened the scoring with an Evaan Reihana penalty, answered by Morrinsville’s Dwayne Sweeney to level at 3-3. This visitors had the edge in the set piece while the hosts looked dangerous through the backs, but the stop start nature of the game meant neither team seemed able to take the initiative and control of the game.
Sports struck the first body blow when pivot Clayton Stewart, who was sharp in his return from injury put a neat chip kick behind the defence which hung in the air for Reihana to grab and halfback Ryan McNeil sped off to score beside the posts, extending the lead to 10-3.
The kickers kept exchanging jabs with a Reihana penalty goal extending the lead to 13-3, before Sweeney replied in the closing stages to leave the score 13-6 at the break.
The second half proved more of the same, the kickers trading goals again until Te Awamutu held a 19-9 lead with 15 minutes to go. Morrinsville struck a decisive blow 10 out from full time, riding a wave of penalties, they kicked for the corner and were rewarded close to the ruck with a try. The Sweeney conversion pulled the game back to 19-16.
The run of penalties continued, this time Sweeney tying the game with a long range shot and minutes to play. As time was expiring, the visitors pushed Sports deep into their own territory where fullback Josh Moorby fielded the ball and saw a defence swarming towards him. He saw space in the open and lead a scintillating counter attack which saw centre Api Mocekula flying down the right wing, offloading inside to Cam Moorby who was pulled down inches from the line.
Morrinsville were scrambling and quick ball caught them offside beside the posts but with a 4 man overlap to the left, the ball went wide, replacement Raroa Lord drawing the last man to put his skipper in to seal the game.
It was a huge win for Sports, with Mocekula man of the match with his strong punch in midfield on attack and tidy defence keeping Sweeney quiet, while loosies Cam Petch and Towers were dynamic around the fringes. Winger Maseiga Teomatavui was thunderous defence along with Moorby and winger Awa Morris were dangerous on counter attack with Reihana tidy in midfield and vital with the boot, nailing 6 from 7.
Sports travel to Leamington for the final round robin game, with a win sealing top spot before heading into the crucial Semi Finals the following week.