Horror first half sinks Sports

By Justin Miezenbeek

A first half littered with injuries, mistakes and missed tackles resigned Te Awamutu Sports to their third consecutive defeat, going down 35-3 to University in Waikato Premier Rugby.

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University pivot Tyler Campbell lead the way with three of his sides five first half tries as University ran roughshod in the opening 30 minutes, while Sports again struggled to turn any meaningful opportunities into points, a lone Logan Karl penalty goal their only reward.

The damage was done early with a chip kick charged down in the opening minutes to concede a try to winger Penikolo Latu, followed by a breakdown in midfield leading to Campbell’s first try.  

Down 14 points in less than 10 minutes, Sports worked their way into University territory and were rewarded with their penalty goal but were soon staring down the barrel after three more tries and the 35-3 halftime scoreline.  Making matters worse, Sports lost hooker Jack Munce and midfielders Tvava Afemai and Caleb Loomans to potentially long term injuries.

Unlike last week, where their game and efforts fell away as the second half progressed, Sports galvanised defensively, showing a little of the steel they showed in the first game while trying to navigate the growing injury toll, forcing the second half to a 0-0 stalemate, University still looked threatening, especially through the backs, but were shut down before they could do any damage, while Sports seemed to find a little more control and spark, especially in the forwards.

It was a familiar story for Sports though, with their lack of scoring really hurting them as they got themselves into scoring positions, but couldn’t cross the chalk.  Man of the match Gordon Fullerton was one of the standouts in the forwards, getting through his third consecutive 80 minutes of quality work and strong ball carrying, backed up by No.8 Fetu Sasalu who ran tirelessly at the defence.  Flanker Matthew Towers worked himself to a standstill again along with Patrick O’Sullivan who impressed in his starting debut.

Halfback Ryan McNeil added some real spark in the second half with some dangerous snipes around the fringes.

Sports now travel to Otorohanga for their third away game in four weeks, needing to find another gear to keep pace with points ladder.