By Justin Miezenbeek
Te Awamutu Sports showed some positive signs in the second half of their round one fixture with Fraser Tech in Waikato Premier Rugby, but were left lamenting a first half spent rooted in their own 22 on defence and a 20 point hole to dig out of.
Replacement Hooker Shaun Rumbles shone in the second spell with two tries, while new recruit, flanker Stuart Leach finished off a slickly worked set lineout move to pick up Sports other score, while fullback Logan Karl picked up a conversion.
Pushed back on their heels quickly from an early break Fraser Tech set up camp in the Sports quarter staged an assault on the line. Sport held tough for the first ten minutes with some stout defence and gained somewhat of a moral victory when the hosts settled for a penalty goal to Tepaea Cook-Savage.
After the relief of goal and restart, back to back penalties pushed them right back on their line and the constant barrage finally broke through with a rolling maul from an attacking lineout and a 8-0 scoreline.
Penalties again had Sports backpedalling and the Fraser Tech backs showed their class with some perfect lines putting Liam Coombs-Fabling over in the corner and another powerful rolling maul resulted in a penalty try and a half time 20-0 deficit.
The second half started as badly as the first with two quick tries deepening the hole to the tune of 30 points and left Sports drowning in penalties and defence, with only desperate scraps to work with themselves.
A string of penalties finally gave Sports the momentum they were searching for, and were rewarded with a rolling maul of their own giving Rumbles his first, then hot on attack again a perfectly worked lineout move, the jumpers backpedalling opening up a huge hole for flanker Leach to take the throw and sprint the last 20 meters away and score in the corner, the score pulled back to 30-12.
After another period with ball in hand, Rumbles had the final say when an expertly judged grubber from Karl was scooped up by midfielder Awa Morris and the ensuing play had Rumbles lurking out wide to pick up his second try and sign off an impressive final quarter, but one that was ultimately too little too late.
In a game where weather and flow meant the backs saw little ball, the forwards took the bulk of the load. Prop Gordon Fullerton picked up man of the match for a powerful display in the scrums and around the field while skipper Matthew Towers put in his usually tireless 80 minute performance, while newcomer Leach impressed in his first match for the club.
Sports stay on the road next week, heading to Morrinsville hoping to take the last quarter efforts forward into a more consistent performance.