Running rugby despite bad weather
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.