Pu­taruru pushed by Mata­mata but win

South Waikato News - - SPORT - By MIKE WHITE

The Pu­taruru side com­ing off a huge win last week­end against Leamington knew that Mata­mata away from home was go­ing to be a tough ask.

Pu­taruru had the early mo­men­tum in the game and man­aged to con­vert early pres­sure into points when a well­worked back­line move from set phase came off, leav­ing GaryJack Gibb one-on-one.

It was a no-con­test as he strolled un­der the up­rights for the first points of the game.

Mata­mata got back pos­ses­sion af­ter an in­fringe­ment by a Pu­taruru player, Pu­taruru were hard on de­fence only for a ball to be turned over.

Pu­taruru pride them­selves on coun­ter­at­tack play and this quick ball led to a break-out down the left touch line by Stephen Mul­hol­land. Beau­ti­ful in­ter-pass­ing to Mark Watkins then to rang­ing lock Ricki Baigent saw Wiki Dou­ble dot down in the cor­ner, an amaz­ing try which went the full length and width of the pad­dock. This stretched the Pu­taruru lead to 14-0.

Mark Watkins, usu­ally present in the mid- field of the Pu­taruru back­line, was shifted one spot out to the wing. This change was to be in­spired as his high work rate, search­ing runs and link­ing play with full­back Jimmy En­sore were sec­ond to none, as com­ments from the side­line in­di­cated it was the best some had seen him play.

A penalty close on half­time saw Pu­taruru go to the break 17-0 ahead. The sec­ond half saw a rein­vig­o­rated Mata­mata side whose pos­ses­sion and phys­i­cal ball- car­ry­ing took its toll on Pu­taruru. A lapse in de­fence saw Mata­mata get in for a wel­learned try.

The Pu­taruru game plan was to gain field po­si­tion and turn that into points. Su­per boot Brad Karl stepped up nu­mer­ous times in the heat of the mo­ment (in a man-of-the-match per­for­mance) and land pres­sure kick af­ter pres­sure kick. Spe­cial men­tion must go to Tom White, the Se­nior A cap­tain, who had the pres­ence of mind to take the points when they were on of­fer and had full faith in his young charge at first five to land them.

Lead­ing 20-7, the Pu­taruru side wanted to put the game to bed, but Mata­mata, who fielded re­cent Waikato and Chiefs player Alex Bradley, had other ideas.

Mata­mata re­grouped and got their hands on the pill af­ter a sloppy kick re­ceive, and marched up the field through their big men. The Mata­mata game plan was to use their su­pe­rior size in the for­wards, and it worked af­ter a good for­ward ef­fort close to the line saw the Pu­taruru try­line breached. The last 15 min­utes was go­ing to be a cliffhanger, at 20-14.

Jimmy En­sore was again ever danger­ous with ball in hand, and al­most sin­gle­hand­edly put the game out of Mata­mata’s reach with a beau­ti­ful run down the right hand touch­line, only for the off-load to be dropped over the line by a for­ward who will re­main name­less!

Head­ing into the last 10 min­utes, de­fence was the hall­mark of both sides. The Pu­taruru Side had tack­ling ma­chines GJ Gibb and Alex Gra­ham whose hits lit­er­ally took the air out of the op­po­si­tion, and Tomo Scheres.

A good steal late in the game turned the pos­ses­sion to Pu­taruru, and an en­su­ing penalty saw the last points de­servedly go to a Pu­taruru side whose su­pe­rior fit­ness, pas­sion and game plan un­did a good Mata­mata side.

The Pu­taruru side of 2013 are a young squad with a good amount of ex­pe­ri­ence mixed in. Get down to the club to watch your boys rep­re­sent your town when you can.

Pu­taruru are ex­tremely proud of two boys in their se­nior A team, Gary-Jack Gibb and Hamish Neil, in mak­ing Waikato un­der-20s.

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