By Justin Miezenbeek
Te Awamutu Sports rode the back of a dominant forwards display to comfortably dispatch University 40-27 in Waikato Premier Rugby in Hamilton on Saturday.
Sports scored six tries, with centre Tairoa Crean and halfback Tvava Afemai both picking up braces to lead the game 40-15 in the closing stages, before it got messy and some ill discipline left Sports undermanned and let University pick up some late tries.
In dry dusty conditions, with a strong wind behind them, the hosts looked the better in the early stages, putting the Sports defence under pressure and were rewarded with an early penalty and a 3-0 lead. Sports were only seeing scraps of ball, but soon settled, picking up their first try in their first venture into Uni territory with Crean bursting through a gap, expertly converted by fullback Logan Karl into the wind from the sideline.
The Uni pack were bigger in size, but found themselves outmatched, Sports dominated the collision area and piled on the heat at scrum time, a tighthead five meters from the try line giving halfback Afemai for his first. The conversion extended the lead to 14-3.
On the stroke of half time, where Sports got themselves caught last week, they found themselves on the hunt, and No.8 Kieran Westlake picked up their third after a pushover try and a 21-3 lead at half time.
With the forwards laying the groundwork, the backs had the chance to work with good front foot ball, a slick short pass to midfielder Andrew Christie on a perfect line busted the line again, Crean on hand to take the last pass and cross for his second. Uni hit back with a quick try with a Sports player in the sin bin, but found themselves back on defence again, and couldn’t contain the quick burst and side step of Afemai who darted from the scrum base for his second, converted by evergreen Waylon Tangohau for a 35-8 lead.
From here, two more Sports yellow cards meant the game lost all its shape in the last quarter, winger Queyst Michael-Tapu picked up his fourth try of the season with an impressive twisting sideline try to give the 40-15 score before two tires in the last 5 minutes closed the gap, but never threatened the result.
The forwards set this victory up, the front row of Gordon Fullerton, Wium Mostert and Terrance Croonen destroying their opposites at scrum time, backed up by powerful locks Gelestino Kiutau and JP Liebenberg, giving the the forwards a chance to run all over the hosts, Fullerton, Kiutau and No.8 Kieran Westlake were especially brutal with ball hand, bending the line each time they carried. Afemai in his return match though was outstanding, putting on a man of the match performance with slick service to the backs and strong defence around the fringes. Midfielder Andrew Christie showed some nice touches and Crean, after performing well at halfback last week, slotted into centre with ease.
Sports head home for the first time this season, hosting Morrinsville at Albert Park next week hoping to take the next step and grab back to back wins.