By Justin Miezenbeek
You have to turn back the clock seven years to find the last time Te Awamutu Sports beat Hamilton Old Boys where an Albert Park Ambush resulted in a 62-15 slaughter in 2013. This time around the scores weren’t quite as high, but the win didn’t mean anything less, defeating Old Boys 18-7 on the back of a quite outstanding defensive effort in Waikato Premier Rugby.
Flanker Stuart Leach and winger Shauncy Waho picked up Sports two tries, while pivot Logan Karl added 2 penalty goals and a conversion.
Sports hit the ground running early with width and speed, relishing a dry track to finally let their backs off the leash and quickly found themselves on attack. Old Boys held off that early raid but seemingly couldn’t hold the second when No.8 Fetu Sasalu crashed close, reaching out to score but was ruled to have made a second movement and score disallowed.
This sparked Old Boys into action who worked their way down the field but no matter what they threw at the hosts defence just couldn’t break through. Sports held their line for wave after wave and once they got their hands back on the ball, worked their way back down the field and Leach finished off some strong work around the fringes to break the deadlock 25 minutes into the first half.
Up by 5 at half time, Karl added a penalty goal to open the second before Old Boys went hot on attack again, finally rewarded with a penalty try after an infringement at ruck time and pulling the score back to 8-7.
Karl netted another long range penalty to stretch the lead to 11-8 as the game turned to a real grind, Old Boys trying to get themselves some rhythm and Sports stoutly defending their line.
With 15 minutes remaining Old Boys had worked their way into the Sports half and while trying to stretch the defense wide, winger Shauncy Waho read the play and his blistering pace left the defence for dust, the score seemingly breaking the back of the visitors.
Old Boys valiantly threw everything at Sports in the last 10 minutes, but could not break the defensive line, Sports picking up a vital turnover as time expired to net their second win on the trot.
It was an immense effort on defence, with the forwards taking the brunt of the huge Old Boys pack, and after an early scrum misfire holding well in the set pieces. Hooker Brad Van Der Hayden had his best game in Sports colours, strong close to the ruck and strong on defence, while locks JP Liebenberg and Kieran Westlake were huge on defense. Midfielder Tairoa Crean picked up man of the match for an outstanding game, running with purpose and his line speed and sure defence meant the Old Boys backs never went anywhere and alongside J’Andre Liebenberg formed an impressive combination.
The Premier B side continued their renaissance with an outstanding 21-17 win over Old Boys. Pivot Josh Malpas was outstanding, guiding the side around the field while his goal kicking kept his side ahead on the scoreboard. Trailing 11-12 at the break the game was back and forward, but sports always had their nose ahead, holding off in the closing stages to record their second win in two weeks and complete a rare double against their City opponents.
Sports have a quick turnaround, with high flying table toppers Otorohanga visiting on Wednesday night, Sports hoping to keep the positive steps coming before a week off with only the Premier B side travelling to Matamata.