Scrums prove to be the dif­fer­ence

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport - JESSE KING

Otoro­hanga crushed United Mata­mata Sports 55-24 at Bed­ford Park on Satur­day to move into the top four with one round re­main­ing of the Pre­mier­ship be­fore the play­offs.

A bonus-point vic­tory over Fraser-Tech at Is­land Re­serve on Satur­day would see them through into the last four, with Hau­tapu one point back in fifth spot to meet UMS at Bed­ford Park.

Hamil­ton Marist, Hamil­ton Old Boys and Melville all won to ce­ment their places in the semi­fi­nals and will fight to see who gains home field ad­van­tage.

Otoro­hanga half­back Te Hata Wil­bore scored a try in the sec­ond minute and his side never looked back. Wil­bore con­trolled the game per­fectly with quick ser­vice and pin­point di­rec­tion and set up the sec­ond try when he gath­ered a loose ball from a back-ped­dling UMS scrum, ran hard at the line and then popped it to Kauri Cof­fin, who dot­ted down un­touched.

Otoro­hanga’s scrum was a dif­fer­ence-maker, con­stantly driv­ing UMS back to give them good mo­men­tum on at­tack.

UMS were in big trou­ble af­ter Otoro­hanga cen­tre Eseroma Na­bal­awa scored his first try mid­way through the first half and Wil­bore’s boot was sharp too as they in­creased their lead to 21-0.

The UMS scrum adapted well to Otoro­hanga’s dom­i­nance by hook­ing the ball back quickly on their feeds and clear­ing it be­fore get­ting rolled.

Fol­low­ing one of these quick clear­ances, UMS got on the board when winger Jamie Gibbs crossed at close range af­ter good runs from Rob Longstaff and Danny Wharawhara.

But with just 10 min­utes of the half re­main­ing, UMS con­tin­ued to make mis­takes, with their scrum prob­lems, poor of­floads and mis­stimed de­coy run­ners hurt­ing them.

They let in two more tries, one to lock An­thony Wise and an­other to flanker Ta­maki Kopa, to head into the sheds down 33-5.

The hosts did score first in the sec­ond spell af­ter five min­utes, when they were awarded a penalty and quick-think­ing No 8 Tal­lis Karaitiana tapped and dived over the try line.

Their come­back was cut short when Ra­muwai crossed for his sec­ond for Otoro­hanga af­ter he fol­lowed up on a mas­sive three­tackle bust run from cen­tre part­ner Joe Per­aw­iti.

At 38-10, UMS had a slim chance to catch up when cen­tre Epeli Lotawa scored fol­low­ing a 50-me­tre burst by Gibbs, but Otoro­hanga replied im­me­di­ately when Cof­fin raced through for his sec­ond try.

Wil­bore capped off an ex­cel­lent show­ing with a 50-me­tre run­away off a loose UMS pass and af­ter Otoro­hanga flanker Mur­ray Iti and UMS’ Ru­peni Vakacegu were shown yel­low cards af­ter a scuf­fle, Lotawa scored a con­so­la­tion try for the hosts.

The un­for­tu­nate as­pect of games at this stage of the sea­son for Hin­uera is there is noth­ing to play for and they ap­peared to be dis­tracted when they played Taupiri at Weal­leans Park.

This was demon­strated in the sec­ond minute when Taupiri waltzed through de­fense to open the scor­ing with a con­verted try.

Stern words by Luke Gain­swick and Kieren McHugh gal­vanised Hin­uera.

From the kick off Hin­uera moved the ball left to right for Todd Allen to use his strength to dive over. Benji Ole­sen con­verted. Three quick tries, all con­verted ex­tended Taupiri’s lead. Hin­uera scored their sec­ond, con­verted to trail, 28-14 at the break.

Clever play be­tween Levi Henare and Ole­sen saw Henare sprint over the white line for Hin­uera’s third try.

A great run by Nigel Ross who swept past defenders in a 40-me­tre burst re­sulted in Hin­uera’s bonus point try for their 28 points.

Un­for­tu­nately Taupiri rat­tled on more to hit the half cen­tury and Hin­uera played the last 10 min­utes with 14 men, Gain­swick be­ing sin-binned.

Graig Blyde was Player of the Day. Next week, the team is away to Mor­rinsville.

On a som­bre note, for­mer Hin­uera player Brae­don Coates was in­jured in a game last week play­ing for South­ern. He has been in Mid­dle­more Hos­pi­tal with spinal in­juries.

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