By Justin Miezenbeek
Te Awamutu Sports only have themselves to blame, never firing a shot in a sloppy 0-20 loss at University in Waikato Premier Rugby.
Hoping to pull the ample positives out of last week’s game against Fraser Tech, they unfortunately took the negatives and built on those, putting together an ill-disciplined and error ridden performance that cost them the chance to pick up a elusive Premiership win.
Greeted by waves of torrential rain and win, the day got off to the worse possible start when, already missing Prop Gordon Fullerton, star back Shauncy Waho pulled up in warm-ups with a hamstring strain, and Sports put themselves on the backfoot immediately with errors and penalties, resulting in a yellow card in the first ten minutes.
The constant peel of the referees whistle blighted a first half where despite the conditions, both sides tried to use the ball in the backs but were never really given a chance to produce any consecutive phases. University however responded the better of the two sides and controlled possession, while Sports buried themselves under a mountain of handling errors and set piece mistakes and ill-discipline, another yellow card dropping them to 14 men.
Defensively however, Sports were holding pretty strong and went into halftime down 0-5 and still very much in the game, despite barely registering any time in the opponent’s quarter. Adding further misery to the injury toll, fullback Logan Karl came off with a shoulder injury.
Despite the rain stopping in the second half and the penalty count easing back, Sports still struggled with retention. Handling errors, lineout struggles and kicking options regularly giving possession back to the students, resulting in their second try when the kick chase was caught staggered and caught the defensive line disorganised.
Down 0-12 University slotted a penalty goal to stretch the lead to 15 points, yet Sports continually shot themselves in the foot, University’s third try all but sealing the game 10 minutes out from time, as well as losing another midfielder when Richie Kaisia limped off with a knee injury late in the second half.
Sports finally showed some signs of life with a few minutes to go blasting through the defense but couldn’t cross the line in last moments, a poetically fitting finish to perhaps their worst performance of the year so far.
With not a huge amount of positives to extract, skipper Matthew Towers tried to put the team on his back in a man of the match performance, outstanding in all facets of the game and was backed up by hard working forwards Gelestino Kiutau and Terrance Croonen, who toiled in the tight stuff in wet, cold conditions.
Sports Premier B shook off a rough week last week to almost pull out an exhilarating win, denied only by some desperate goal line defense in the closing minutes, going down 20-24.
Sports will have to turn the page quickly from this match, with Hamilton Marist visiting Albert Park next weekend, in Sports first home game of the second round.