Run­ning rugby de­spite bad weather

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport -

Reid and Har­ri­son Waikato Stud UMS 5 Uni­ver­sity 34

If the farm­ers wanted rain it was rain they got in the sev­enth round of the Waikato pre­mier rugby com­pe­ti­tion, as UMS trav­elled to the Uni­ver­sity Oval in Hamil­ton.

With a month of rain fall­ing in a day, the Hamil­ton Old Boys team from the pre­vi­ous week prob­a­bly had a use for their gum­boots.

UMS com­ing off a good game against Old Boys last week were ex­pect­ing to progress this week, but knew they were up against it with a Uni­ver­sity team play­ing some good rugby. They also fea­tured two New Zealand Un­der 20 rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

The re­turn of cap­tain Alex Bradley surely added strength to the for­ward pack and his con­trol of the scrum that was un­der pres­sure was cer­tainly needed.

Added to the start­ing team this week was ex­cit­ing mid- fielder 18- year- old Luke Arnold, who didn’t look out of place in this higher grade. His de­fen­sive ef­forts were some­thing to cel­e­brate on a cold, rainy af­ter­noon.

UMS play­ing with a good breeze prob­a­bly did not utilise the el­e­ments as best as they could and mis­di­rected kicks, which were eas­ily re­turned by the Var­sity back three, al­lowed too much pos­ses­sion in the UMS 22.

With that pres­sure and some cru­cial missed first-up tack­les, this al­lowed over­laps and Var­sity scored three well-worked tries.

Once UMS were able to plug the short sides and keep Var­sity in their own half, they be­gan to dom­i­nate the ruck and mauls with dogged hit ups us­ing player of the day Josh Gibbs, who was well sup­ported by loose for­ward Te­vita Le­si­vakarua.

As is with all the pre­mier teams who have been in the top grade for many years, when un­der pres­sure they give away neg­a­tive penal­ties and this al­lowed UMS some front foot ball.

UMS then took quick taps and a surg­ing run by Ryan Tuhakaraina with sup­port of the for­wards, al­lowed some great mul­ti­ple phase play, which in the con­di­tions was very im­pres­sive.

This al­lowed Lo­toa Ali­imatafitafi and Michel Peters some go for­ward and Bradley was able to score af­ter a pow­er­ful drive and sup­port to take the half­time score to 5-17.

As the game con­tin­ued into the sec­ond half the con­di­tions be­came worse and it was credit to both teams who tried to run the ball at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity.

To be fair to Var­sity, their main ob­jec­tive was to get a bonus point win and that was achieved soon af­ter the break, with some great tac­ti­cal kick­ing that al­lowed con­certive pres­sure on the UMS pack and re­sulted in an early try.

For the ma­jor­ity of the half Var­sity just pinned UMS in their own half and showed their ex­pe­ri­ence to fin­ish off the game.

What was of a com­fort­ing as­pect was UMS not drop­ping their heads and with the lit­tle front foot ball they got, they had a go and put the Var­sity team un­der pres­sure.

With the field and con­di­tions be­ing a fac­tor, some re­spect needs to be shown to the of­fi­cials who play­ers some­times for­get don’t en­joy hav­ing to con­trol the game in th­ese con­di­tions.

One amus­ing as­pect was Bradley, who had just re­turned the day be­fore from his trip to Canada with the Mata­mata Col­lege 1st XV.

He kept on say­ing ‘‘what eh’’ to the of­fi­cial and even used the phrase loonie when do­ing the coin toss.

It wasn’t un­til un­der­stood why.

Over­all, the UMS per­for­mance was on par with their pre­vi­ous per­for­mance and signs are that they are learn­ing how to be part of the pre­mier di­vi­sion.

Spe­cial men­tion needs to go to the Se­nior Bs, who had to back up from the cur­tain raiser, and also the sup­port­ers who braved the con­di­tions.

Next week UMS host de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Hamil­ton Marist at Bed­ford Park.

af­ter the team


UMS player Te­vita Le­si­vakarua goes to ground with the ball. In sup­port are Les­lie Mcll­roy and Robert Longstaff.

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