By Justin Miezenbeek
Te Awamutu Sports overcame some first half rust from two weeks off to blow Eastern Suburbs off the park and take maximum points from a 52-20 win in Waikato Championship Rugby.
Sports scored eight tries, with winger Shauncy Waho and No.8 Fetu Sasalu both picking up doubles with Matthew Towers, Awa Morris Ryan McNeil picking up tries while fullback Logan Karl slotted 6 conversion along with his try for a personal haul of 17 points on a day where a forgettable first half was outshone by a scintillating second half.
Sports hit the ground running with two quick tries to Fetu Sasalu and Matthew Towers to take a 14-0 lead in 10 minutes but rust showed as penalties, errors and frustration piled up and Sports sputtered their way to a 14-8 lead after suburbs scored from a slick lineout move. The visitors had a real bounce in their step and felt the rumblings of an upset brewing for the second half.
It took Sports 10 minutes to dash those dreams with three tries in 10 minutes as the backs found their groove and found space all over the field, winger Shancy Waho picking up two tries either side of a stunning break and chip kick laying on a try to fullback Logan Karl.
Suburbs picked up a try against the run of play when a clearing kick was charged down but that only stung Sports back into action, putting massive pressure on at scrum time and winning a tight head which caught the visiting backs short and Centre Awa Morris strolled through for an easy try and a 25 meter, perfectly executed rolling maul gave Sasalu his second try and a 45-15 scoreline.
Suburbs snuck another try when a wide pass was intercepted and returned to pull it back to 45-20 but swarming pressure on the suburbs ruck saw Ryan McNeil scoop up the loose ball and score between the post to wrap up a comprehensive victory to kick of off their Championship Campaign.
For Sports, while the first half was not one they will remember fondly, the second saw them right the ship, with the backs reaping the rewards off a strong forwards effort. Midfielder Caleb Loomans continues to improve and was a constant menace through the middle while Waho showed a glimpse of his immense potential, almost untouchable in space. Karl was dangerous at fullback and excellent from the tee. Lock Josh Reynolds was strong in the lineouts while Connor Loomans along with Matthew Towers worked hard around the fringes with Sasalu and Prop Gordon Fullerton carrying the ball strongly.
Sports travel to Putaruru next weekend looking for two wins in a row and keeping their momentum going in the Championship round.