By Justin Miezenbeek
Te Awamutu Sports will be kicking themselves for letting a prime opportunity slip through their fingers, undoing a 17-0 start with lapses either side of half time and never recovered, falling 17-19 to University in Waikato Premier Rugby.
Tries to Matthew Towers and Fetu Sasalu in the opening half were converted by Logan Karl Conversions, who also added a penalty goal.
Sports were on fire in the opening minutes, putting University on their heels and were rewarded with an early Karl penalty goal, followed quickly by some slick draw and pass work down the left flank from Towers and No.8 Fetu Sasalu, Towers taking the final pass and crashing over to score, the Karl conversion opening up a 10-0 lead.
University evened things out a bit from there but couldn’t find a way through the Te Awamutu defence, and after blunting the visitors attack, struck again themselves through some Shauncy Waho brilliance, who took a high ball under attention, broke the early defence, threw a dummy to the outside and found Sasalu inside to score a stunning try, the conversion extending the score to 17-0.
That’s where the good ended for Sports, who had complete dominance in the game right up until the closing seconds of the first half when a couple of mistakes put them hard on defence and they finally conceded a try to take a 17-7 lead into the half.
In what proved to be a key momentum shift, Sports got caught out wide with a wipers kick in the opening moments of the second half and that lead dwindled from 17 points to five.
Those scores gave the visitors a wave of confidence, resulting in a 9 minute siege on the Sports line, who held and held and held and will kick themselves for letting in a soft try after so much hard work.
With the score at 17-19 and plenty of time left, there was no need to panic, but as the errors and penalties mounted time ticked away, composure soon bred desperation and Sports seemed to create chances then shoot themselves in the foot, eventually succumbing to the clock and their third loss of the season.
Ironically, the loss resulted in a move up the table into sixth spot, a top four spot still within their grasp, but a little further away than it was last week.
While the loss is bitterly disappointing, it shouldn’t overshadow the good. A little more polish and patience could have netted a very different result as Sports showed a strong defensive line and created plenty of chances. Carl Finlay in his return season to the club and shift into lock was outstanding all around the field in a man of the match performance, while in the backs standout midfielder Tairoa Crean made a welcome return and pivot Karl directed play well and was sound in defence around the fringes.
MVP Points: 3 – Carl Finlay. 2 – Tairoa Crean. 1 – Logan Karl
Te Awamutu Sports Premier B recorded their third win of the season with a blistering 41-19 win over University. Flanker Stuart Leach starred with three of his side’s seven tries, pulling away in the second half after a 17-7 halftime lead.
Leach crossed early and the lead stretched when winger Jeremy Doig perfectly read an offload to scamper 40 meters to score, followed by Leach’s second to close the first half scoring. A break down the left flank saw midfielder Henare Raukawa score after juggling the final pass, followed by Leach’s third of the match in close. Hooker Dylan Jefferies scored close to the posts and Flanker Cameron Moorby finished the scoring with a slick run from the back of the scrum to complete an outstanding performance, sitting them in fifth spot with three games to play.
Sports remain at home next week, with high flying Melville coming to town, and wins for both sides vitally important to keep pace with the top four.