UMS in fight to hold premier spot

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport - By TERESA HATTAN

United Mata­mata Sports’ premier rugby team need your sup­port now more than ever as they fight to stay in the premier di­vi­sion.

From this Satur­day, the Bed­ford Park- based team will bat­tle for three weeks in Waikato Rugby Union’s pro­mo­tion rel­e­ga­tion.

UMS pres­i­dent Aaron Hill says sup­port for the club through­out the sea­son had been ‘‘fan­tas­tic’’. This comes even though the team is yet to win a game and are at the bot­tom of the premier ta­ble.

‘‘We knew it was go­ing to be a chal­leng­ing sea­son.’’

‘‘I think the sup­port­ers have ap­pre­ci­ated the stan­dard of rugby be­cause its premier di­vi­sion and they en­joy watch­ing a good level of rugby.’’

Team cap­tain agrees.

‘‘I’ve had noth­ing but com­ments.

‘‘It’s all been about the level of rugby that’s be­ing played and the fact that we have been com­pet­ing. We haven’t been get­ting hid­ings ev­ery week.’’

The pair cer­tainly be­lieve some of the 50/50 calls have re­sulted in UMS be­ing on the other side of a win. ‘‘A lot of those 50/50s don’t go our way,’’ Bradley ad­mits.

It was 10 years ago when UMS were last in the premier di­vi­sion and they now have ev­ery hope of stay­ing put.

‘‘The next three weeks are crit­i­cal,’’ Hill says.

‘‘If we can man­age to stay up

Alex

Bradley

pos­i­tive there I think it’s good for the town to have a club in premier di­vi­sion, it’s good ex­po­sure for the younger play­ers that are play­ing here.’’

Bradley be­lieves that is key, too. ‘‘We said at the start of the year if we pro­vided the op­por­tu­nity for just one of these young guys to get a lick or a chance at higher-level rugby that would be per­fect, we’ve done the job then.

‘‘Whereas stay­ing in that first di­vi­sion, you just don’t have the same op­por­tu­ni­ties. You’re not looked at the same.’’

Skill level and in­ten­sity is cer­tainly a step up for the team play­ing in premier this sea­son. ‘‘Step­ping up is a big part of it,’’ Bradley says.

‘‘Our guys are all hav­ing to step up to this next level, whereas a lot of the other teams in the premier di­vi­sion, they’ve got play­ers com­ing down to play premier rugby. It’s a big dif­fer­ence.’’

Teams UMS are play­ing, such as Hamil­ton Marist, would have also spent a num­ber of years at this level whereas there would only be a hand­ful of se­nior play­ers in the Mata­mata side who have played premier rugby be­fore.

Bradley says de­spite the tough sea­son, his team mates con­tinue to come to train­ing with their heads up.

‘‘They’re real pos­i­tive. The talk amongst them all is that they don’t want to go back down to di­vi­sion one rugby.

‘‘They want to con­tinue play­ing this level.’’

Bradley says as UMS en­ter pro­mo­tion rel­e­ga­tion, which sees the top two teams in di­vi­sion and bot­tom two teams in premier play each other, a large num­ber of sup­port­ers at­tend­ing games, both at home and away, is vi­tal.

In re­cent games the club has seen more sup­ports and ex­play­ers re­turn to watch. ‘‘They’re want­ing to come and watch be­cause of that level of rugby,’’ Bradley says.

Both Hill and Bradley wanted to thank sup­port­ers for their con­tin­ued sup­port this sea­son, along with ded­i­cated spon­sors, coaches and team man­age­ment.

‘‘But now we need you more than ever,’’ Bradley says.

Photo: TERESA HATTAN

United Mata­mata Sports pres­i­dent Aaron Hill and premier team cap­tain Alex Bradley say the team needs their sup­port­ers now more than ever as they face the start of pro­mo­tion rel­e­ga­tion this week­end.

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