By Justin Miezenbeek
Te Awamutu Sports shook off some second half wobbles to hold off a late comeback from Taupiri, taking maximum points with a 36-22 win in Waikato Premier Rugby.
Tries to Caleb Loomans, Shauncy Waho, Josh Reynolds, Matthew Towers and Jack Munce saw that Sports never trailed, leading 24-5 at halftime before Taupiri pulled the score back to 29-22 late in the second half.
Taupiri had their hands on the ball early, but a turnover and offload from winger Queyst Michael-Tapu had returning midfielder Caleb Loomans outrunning the cover defence to open the scoring.
Waho soon made that 14-0 after dancing inside three defenders and while Taupiri had held the bulk of the ball and made the bulk of the play, Sports were lethal on counter attack and turned any possession into points.
The hosts finally got themselves on the score sheet after some concerted pressure on the Sports line, closed the gap to 14-5 but they couldn’t hold lock out lock Josh Reynolds, as he burst through the goal-line defence, planting the ball for a 21-5 lead with five minutes left in the first half.
Fullback Logan Karl slotted a penalty goal to go go with his three conversions, heading into the break 24-5 up.
With the wind behind them, the hosts worked their way down into Sports territory and were rewarded with their second try, closing the gap to 24-12 before Waho broke down the left wing, found Karl in support who also found his skipper Matthew Towers who stepped the last defender and scored under the posts.
Up 29-12 with 30 minutes to go Sports went off the boil and let Taupiri get back into the game, their big forwards finding space that wasn’t there in the first half and rode the home town momentum to two more tries and a 29-22 scoreline with 10 minutes to go.
Sports seemingly didn’t have an answer, but eventually managed to find another gear and get themselves some ball and were eventually rewarded when hooker Jack Munce hit a short ball at pace and stepped inside his defender and sealed the game.
It was the forwards again who did the hard work against a big, powerful Taupiri pack which unleashed the young exciting backs. No.8 Kieren Westlake a force with ball in hand in a man of the match performance. Locks Josh Reynolds and Gelestino Kiutau were prominent also, backup up by flankers Connor Loomans and Matthew Towers. Winger Shancy Waho was a threat every time he touched the ball in space off the back off midfielders Richard Kaisia and Caleb Loomans who looked strong. Pivot Thomas Bird controlled things well in his return game for the club.
Sports are at home on Thursday night this week, hosting Fraser Tech at Albert Park