By Justin Miezenbeek
It was whiskey and cigars all round as Te Awamutu Sports shocked the previously unbeaten Otorohanga 33-26 at Island Reserve, to land their first win in Waikato Premier Rugby.
Sports scored three outstanding tries and midfielder Evaan Reihana’s perfect 7 from 7 from the boot for 18 points did the rest in a game that was a complete turnaround from the first three rounds and secured a hard earned team win.
Reihana got the scoring underway with a booming 50 metre penalty goal and Sports poured the heat onto the Otorohanga line, which held firm until a breakout got the hosts in attacking position and pivot James Gordon waltzed through a huge gap to score and take the lead 7-3.
Not to be outdone, Sports Logan Karl left them all for dead as he threw a dummy and broke through to score under the post, taking back the lead 10-7.
As half time drew close Otorohanga showed the danger they posed out wide, hooker Cam Viiga finishing a sweeping move with Reihana slotting a penalty to leave the half time score 14-13 to Otorohanga.
While Sports grew in confidence, Otorohanga struggled in the face of relentless pressure and errors gave the ball back to Sports, Reihana chipping Sports into the lead, then out again further to 19-14.
While down to 14 men Sports dug even deep in defence, but almost undid all their hard work with an against the run of play intercept, giving the lead back 21-19, but Sports struck straight back through replacement halfback Atsushi Yumato crashing over in the heavy traffic, the score 26-21.
As time ticked on, Otorohanga got more and more desperate, flanker Matthew Towers pounced and intercepted a quick lineout to score and stretch the lead to 33-21. By now Sports believed and defended their hearts out in the closing 10 minutes, only conceding a try on the stroke of full time to secure a memorable win.
There were top performers all over the park in what was a real team effort, Sports built on the steel they showed in last weeks second half and the rest followed after, the backs looked sharp and their defence was much improved, lead by centre Awa Morris who was outstanding. Karl and Reihana guided the side around, kicking the corners an winger Shauncy Waho finally got a chance to stretch his legs. The forwards, outsized by the massive Otorohanga pack, more than did their part, lead by front rowers Gordon Fullerton, Terrence Croonen and the returning Simon Kay, whose return from injury had a huge influence.
Sports are back home next week, facing the tough task of Hamilton Marist, but hoping to build on this win.