By Justin Miezenbeek
Te Awamutu Sports showed they will be a more than competitive team in this years Waikato Premier Rugby competition, but will rue a lack of finishing and untimely turnovers in an unflattering 29-3 loss to Melville at Collins Road.
Playing in torrential rain, Sports more than matched their larger counterparts in physicality but Melville took their opportunities when on offer and played the better wet weather game, riding an outstanding defensive effort home.
The scoreline didn’t really reflect the full story of a largely competitive game, Melville scoring their three first half tries against the run of play and an uncharacteristically off day for prolific kicker Evaan Reihana left 4 goals on the field.
A breakdown from Sports on the opening kick-off let Melville in within the opening seconds, followed shortly by a dropped ball in midfield which was scooped up and returned under the post for an early 0-12 deficit. Reihana slotted a penalty goal to pull it back to 3-12 before another turnover set Melville on the counter attack and a 3-19 half time score.
Sports had plenty of chances for more points but Melville’s scrambling defence snuffed out any breakaways, then held strong on their line.
The second half saw more of the same, Sports going through periods of dominance where they worked their way into scoring positions, but couldn’t quite finish it off, the ball carriers hurling themselves into Melville’s defence.
Melville’s Sam Toa, slotted a penalty goal to extend the lead to 22-3, and while Sports created more chances, namely a scintillating break from young pivot Logan Karl resulting in an errant pass that touched a finger-tip and was ruled a knock on with an open line beckoning, they just couldn’t break defensive wall between them and the tryline.
Melville picked up their fourth try in the closing minutes, after repealing an extended siege from Te Awamutu on their line, completing a tough fought, but hard earned win.
Sports can take plenty of positives out what a pretty good if unpolished performance, No.8 Fetu Sasalu hurled himself into the defence time after time with reckless abandon, aided by young prop Gordon Fullerton who was equally strong in contact on attack and defence. Young flanker Connor Loomans showed he was an exciting talent in matching the big Melville forwards and lock Gelestino Kiutau featured heavily with ball in hand. It was a tough day for backs given the weather but Karl in his debut match put together a nice performance, fearlessly taking on the line and sparking some sweeping moves.
Sports now travel to Morrinsville on good Friday, hoping to turn some of the good things from this week into points and a win.