UMS does hard yards in Easter match-ups
Team take heart from defeats thanks to better form
The Easter weekend draw from hell describes the Friday and Monday fixtures for the Reid and HarrisonWaikato Stud UMS Senior A team.
As the only premier team to have two away games it was going to be a big ask with players unavailable for a plethora of reasons but that is no excuse and this brings positive challenges for all those involved.
Good Friday saw front runners Otorohanga host UMS at Island Reserve on a great surface, conducive to fast open running rugby and both teams’ supporters were certainly not let down with tries a-plenty.
Otorohanga started with a very basic game plan with one-off runners and loaded up one side which allowed open spaces for their backs. UMS however were up to the challenge and defused any attack with great defence. They didn’t give away early points as they have in past fixtures. Otorohanga scored their first points from a turnover in the UMS scrum on the 15th minute mark.
UMS then applied some great pressure to the Otorohanga pack resulting in a turnover in their 22 and the ball was quickly sent out to the outsides and Sharman Emery was rewarded with a great try.
The issue that has hindered UMS has been the restarts and every time UMS scored points to get back into the match they gave away instant points from the kick- offs. This resulted in Otorohanga scoring again quickly.
Midway through the half, when UMS gained possession off set phases they looked the better team and as is the case with all opposition to date, when they see a threat they give away infringements and this allowed Ryan Tuhakaraina an easy penalty.
On the 34th minute UMS scored the try of the match with a great turnover from captain Alex Bradley on the team’s goal line. The ball then was transferred quickly to the outsides and Sam Brill made the running and passed back into the support of Sharman then Chris Crosdale to take the score to 15- 19 with minutes remaining.
UMS initially defused the attack of the Otorohanga pack and a relieving scrum would have taken the halftime score to a close and UMS with the upper hand, however a turnover from the base of the scrum allowed an easy try which was disappointing.
At the half, coach George Simpkin implored his players to stay in the game and was impressed that with only 25 per cent from set phases UMS were still able to show their class.
Otorohanga admitted to taking UMS a bit too lightly and their game plan was even more controlled in the second half, with dominance at rucks and mauls but this was only because UMS had not been able to secure possession.
Once Otorohanga gained full control of this aspect, six second-half tries were scored to take the game away from UMS.
UMS however did come back into the game in the final quarter with a try to Michael Autridge. They were all over their opponents in the final 10 minutes but could not crack the line to gain a bonus point.
The return of Jamie McIntyre to the mid-field was a shining light and his hard-nosed running caused alarm to his opposition as did hard running Rewiti Vaimoso, although if they could get support runners off him then play would develop further.
The second game of the weekend saw UMS play at Te Awamutu and with a few changes to the starting line-up through injury this was going to be a big task.
But UMS were the better starting team. It looked as though Te Awamutu Sports were taking the game a bit easier than they wanted.
What was pleasing for UMS was their ability at scrum and lineout time to secure their own ball. This allowed front foot ball to first-five Ryan Tuhakaraina who was able to set his backs away with good ball.
Accurate throwing came from Sam Rush and great takes by Michael Peters and Chris Allman, with the latter playing his best game of the season. What was unfortunate was the turnover of good position in the UMS red zone. This allowed two easy tries midway through the half.
Te Awamutu then tried one too many times to run at the UMS backs and some great pressure from captain for the day McIntyre and Vaimoso made Te Awamutu drop the ball.
Speedy winger Brill toed the ball ahead several times and with two defenders on his back he managed dot down close to the post.
This took the score to 7-14 with the conversion from Tuhakaraina.
With 10 minutes in the half Te Awamutu used the ball well in the forwards to take the game into the UMS red zone. This then allowed a penalty try soon after to take the halftime score to 7-24.
Coach George Simpkin wanted more commitment at the rucks and mauls and loosies Chris Cawker and Tevita Lesivakarua certainly lifted their game in the second half and were outstanding. It would have been hard to split the player of the day between these two.
UMS were the better team in the second half and desperate defence and accurate attack were a positive aspect of the game but better ball to the outsides would have allowed more penetration into the Te Awamutu half.
With 15 minutes remaining, from broken play fullback Vaimoso went on one of his numerous jigging runs and stepped three or four times to score close to the post and with the conversion by Tuhakaraina, UMS were only 10 points behind.
From the kick-off UMS knocked the ball on and Te Awamutu scored immediately to take the game away from UMS.
However, UMS continued the attack and again were just short of scoring on fulltime.
This was an encouraging performance by UMS and the way the competition goes you are never out of it, but UMS would like a win soon.
UMS have now had their tough road trip but the club and players will be better for it.
One unfortunate injury was Autridge, who may be out for two to three months with a serious shoulder injury..
UMS host Hamilton Old Boys next Saturday which will be an exciting match up.