Rugby: Tauranga overcome Mount pressure

By Ben Guild

Classic tries, yellow cards, try saving tackles, quality place kicking and a bit of biff - the Battle of the Bridge had it all at Tauranga Domain on Saturday afternoon.

Tauranga Sports led for only five minutes of the match, but that proved enough after Mount Maunganui let a double-digit second-half lead slip for the second time in as many weeks to lose their third match in a month by a solitary point.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Mount, who dominated for long periods with quick line speed and physicality before succumbing 27-26.

Tauranga Sports coach Mike Rogers paid tribute to a Mount side that could easily be undefeated after four rounds had a thing or two gone their way.

"Not taking anything away from the Mount - they put us under a huge amount of pressure that we hadn't gone through so far this season," said Rogers.

"We knew they'd bring that, and we knew pretty much what they'd bring in terms of a game plan. It was obviously pretty difficult for us to stop that flow, but we're pretty thrilled to come away with a win given the circumstances.

"I think our boys showed a lot of ticker in those last 20 minutes to come back. Our theme through the week was brotherhood and they showed that."

Rogers singled out the efforts of standout first five-eighth Paul Morris, who kicked the ball beautifully throughout before converting his own try from the right-hand touchline with precious few moments left to put his side in front.

"First start for the club, and to score the winning try and kick the conversion from the sideline was pretty awesome. It's good to have a first five like that - it's been a while since we've had one."

The Mount opened the scoring with a converted try to Sam Beard in the 10th minute after the forwards found acres of room up the middle of the Tauranga Sports ruck, but apart from that crisp break both sides looked scratchy for much of the opening stanza.

The teams traded penalties midway through the half before a converted try to Tauranga Sports halfback Josh Hall levelled the scores at 10-10.

Despite Adam McGarvey and Matty Axtens spending time in the bin for foul play, the Mount took a deserved three-point lead into the break thanks to a sweetly struck Matt Golding penalty.

They extended their advantage to 26-13 midway through the second half after twenty minutes of clinical football.

McGarvey more than atoned for his earlier indiscretion - taking the ball to the line without fear and hitting hard in the tackle. His try - a stunning 25m effort in which he chopped off both feet past tiring forwards before going around the fullback - looked to have shut the home side out of the contest.

Instead it stung Tauranga Sports into action.

They scored a classic forward driving try from a lineout after the Mount was penalised for a breakdown infringement after fluffing the kick-off, with Morris' sideline conversion making it 26-20.

An epic defensive stand from each side followed, with the impressive Johan Bardoul saving what looked like a certain try in the dying moments.

The converted blindside try to Morris, and a huge defensive stand down the other end, meant Tauranga Sports stay undefeated.

In other premier action, Greerton Marist thumped Rangataua 45-7, Te Puke fought off a strong first half from Rotoiti to win 32-9, Whakarewarewa sneaked by Opotiki 22-15 and Te Puna beat Paroa 41-12.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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