Te Awamutu Courier

O¯ haupo¯ side dominates Puta¯ruru

Young side gives its best consistent­ly


O¯haupo¯ travelled to Puta¯ruru last Saturday for a division 1 pre-season encounter. In the earlier game, Ohaupo¯ ¯ B fielded a very competitiv­e team.

A feature of this team was an Ohaupo¯ ¯ debut for Queyst MichaelTap­u who played at first five-eighth.

Michael-Tapu, a former Te Awamutu Sports player, showed what a skilful player he is with his sharp footwork and ability to know where the space was in the Puta¯ ruru defensive¯line.

Ohaupo¯ will hope he hangs around for the rest of the season.

Another player on debut who stood out was hooker Paul JamesLyon who was a strong ball runner when the opportunit­y presented itself.

Captain Chris Boyce was a tireless worker for his beloved O¯ haupo¯ team.

O¯ haupo¯ A fronted with their top team, treating it as if it were a competitio­n game.

The contest was between two young sides, a great sight at firstdivis­ion level.

Puta¯ruru featured a team that included only six players over 21.

O¯ haupo¯ were first to score, through the speed of winger Caleb Kennedy who got the ball on his own side of halfway and showed a clean set of heels to outflank Puta¯ruru’s cover defence.

Impressive halfback Scott Thomas converted.

Puta¯ruru stormed back using a bulky front-rower to charge over close to the line.

Ohaupo¯ ¯ had made a tactical change for the game with usual fullback Dean Fullerton in at 10 and Josh Thomas at fullback.

This worked a treat, with Fullerton’s powerful boot giving O¯ haupo¯ field position.

And it was Thomas who was next to score, enjoying the space he was getting in the fullback role.

Thomas skipped around the back of the O¯ haupo¯ backline to allow him to cut the Puta¯ruru defence to pieces and score.

Younger brother Scott converted. For O¯ haupo¯ in the first half, lock Liam Fox was always one of the first O¯ haupo¯ forwards to get to the breakdown.

Prop Taylor Hayes looks in great form and is in for another big season. O¯ haupo¯ led at the halftime break. The young O¯ haupo¯ side had a great deal of confidence, which

comes from self-belief that they can compete against any team they come up against.

A lot of this has come from the players caring for each other on and off the field, and a consistenc­y of selection during coaches Jordan Farrington and Mitch Graham’s time in charge.

O¯ haupo¯ continued their dominance in the second half and it was firstly impressive prop Liam Palaone who benefited from this, crashing over for a five-pointer.

This time it was Josh Thomas who converted.

It continued to be the front-rowers who benefited from O¯haupo¯’s field position with firstly Met Camaibatik­i forcing his way across the line.

Camaibatik­i was a handful for the Puta¯ruru tacklers all afternoon with

ball in hand.

Finally, club legend Kerry “Kooza” Matthews went across for a fivepointe­r, which topped off a fine second half from Matthews, who continues to show age is no barrier when he pulls on his beloved O¯ haupo¯ jersey.

One who stood out for Ohaupo¯ ¯ was back Chris Ferguson, who ran strongly all afternoon and challenged the Puta¯ruru defensive line with his strong ball carries.

Ferguson’s strong running was complement­ed by the good footwork of Bronson Wilson-Beech who was a great find for O¯ haupo¯ last season and will be an important part of O¯ haupo¯ ‘s plans for 2022.

But it was Kennedy, Ohaupo¯ ¯ ’s first try-scorer, who received the player of the¯day accolades.

Ohaupo¯ received fantastic support for this game with many of the faithful making the trip to the South Waikato.

 ?? Photos / Arthur Uden ?? Ohaupo¯ ¯ B halfback Ryan McCluskey runs at the Puta¯ ruru B defence.
Photos / Arthur Uden Ohaupo¯ ¯ B halfback Ryan McCluskey runs at the Puta¯ ruru B defence.
 ?? ?? Ohaupo¯ ¯ winger Caleb Kennedy fends off a Puta¯ ruru defender.
Ohaupo¯ ¯ winger Caleb Kennedy fends off a Puta¯ ruru defender.

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