By Justin Miezenbeek
Te Awamutu Sports watched a golden opportunity to pick up much deserved win sail between the posts deep in injury time, coming back from 14-0 down to ultimately lose 29-27 in gut wrenching fashion to Fraser Tech at Albert Park in Waikato Premier Rugby.
Leading 27-26 as 80 minutes ticked over, they held the visitors out for another 8 minutes of wave after wave of attack as Tech threw everything they had at Sports, until they finally gave up a penalty and Tech slotted the goal to break the hosts hearts.
Tech came out of the gates fast and had the hosts under their posts within a minute, wondering what hit them. Full of running, the huge Tech forwards put Sports on their heels and to the sword, spending the first quarter of the game without the ball and just holding on.
Sports came out of the other side of the onslaught down 14-0, but slowly started working their way back into the game.
Pivot Evaan Reihana slotted a penalty goal to pull back three points then laid on a perfect pass to put winger Yuki Omichi in to score. Sports right back in the game at 14-10.
But hot on attack in the closing stages of the first half, a poor chip kick straight into the hands of their opponent sent the ball all the way back down the other end and had the hosts down 19-10 at the break.
While Sports had worked their way to an even slate by half time, they came out in the second and blew Tech off the park. Fullback Andrew Christie sliced through to pull the score back to 19-15 and they finally took the lead when No.8 Fetu Sasalu flew off the back of the scrum and crashed through three defenders to score.
Sports seemingly struck the definitive blow when midfielder Caleb Loomans flew down the touchline and scored, converted by Reihana to hold a 27-19 lead with 10 minutes to go, but faced with a penalty five meters from the line in front of the posts, they chose to go for points and couldn’t convert, giving Tech a chance.
They took that chance when scoring from long range in the 80th minute, followed by the winning blow to crush the crowd and seal the win.
For Sports, while the loss is a bitter pill to swallow there was plenty to take out of the game. The defensive effort from across the board was immense, lead by skipper Simon Kay and his loose forward trio of Matthew Towers, Connor Loomans and Fetu Sasalu who got through a tower of work. Midfielder Caleb Loomans picked up the man of the match honors with his best performance and winger Shauncy Waho looked dangerous whenever he got in space.
Next week Sports take on Hamilton Old Boys away in their last game of the first round.