By Justin Miezenbeek
Te Awamutu Sports were dealt a harsh lesson in what the top side brings to the competition in a 12-80 thrashing at the hands of the unbeaten competition leaders Hautapu in Waikato Premier Rugby.
Sports managed just two tries to Clark Towers and JP Liebenberg, against the visitors twelve and along with a mounting injury rate, fell apart in the second half.
Sports held their own in the forwards against the mammoth Hautapu side littered with Chiefs and Waikato players but couldn’t withstand the barrage of ball runners who always seemed to have space and a support player on hand every time they bent the hosts defensive line.
Hautapu scored in the opening minutes to quickly put the hosts on the back foot, but that was followed by a good period of attack for Sports, who went close to scoring but couldn’t quite break through, adding salt to the wound was an intercept that went the other way to extend the lead to 14-0.
The cracks began to form as Hautapu scored another long range try, but sports answered back with an intercept of their own, winger Clark Towers going 90 meters to get Sports on the board and trailing 7-21.
The visitors picked up another score on the stroke of half time to leave the score 28-7 at the break.
While cracks were forming, Sports were hanging tough in the first half, but the dam burst in the second to the tune of eight tries, and the battered TA Sports fell to pieces, dropping off tackles and being unable to contain the offload game from Hautapu.
Sports had pockets of possession but no real opportunities to threaten the Hautapu line, every time they got into the visitors territory, an untimely mistake or simply being out muscled at the breakdown resulted in a turnover the electric Hautapu backline made the hosts pay.
While in a game like this, there is seemingly not a lot of positives to take out there were some bright points for Sports, skipper Matthew Towers emptied his tank in a huge defensive effort while the front row of Tony Pellow, Wium Mostert, Gordon Fullerton and later Adrian Tucker put the acid on the Hautapu scrum, more than holding their own. Lock JP Liebenberg made a welcome return, picking up a try and hurling himself into the defence. No.8 Kieran Westlake tirelessly carried the ball into the heart of the visitors side. Fullback Carwyn Penny impressed in his first match, picking up man of the match and halfback Ben Mylchreest pulled double duty, playing 80 minutes in the B game, then backing up with 70 minutes in the As game.
Sports are at home again next week, and need to put this game behind them quickly, and gun for a win to hold their spot in the top eight as another tough test in Melville come to town.