Rugby: Coach pleased by performance of Sassenachs

Ten tries and plenty of enterprising play - not what you would expect at a chilly and soaked University Oval yesterday.

But there was enough to like for Sassenachs coach Cory Brown as he watched his side beat the Spartans 41-19 with Otago's Mitre 10 Cup campaign at the forefront of Brown's mind.

With snow visible on Flagstaff and rain relenting only during the second half, handling errors were to be expected.

But the constant stoppages for scrums suited the Sassenachs pack, which had the ascendancy at scrum time throughout the 80 minutes despite rolling changes in the second half.

The scrum was backed up by a good lineout, which came into play regularly in the first half through first-five Josh Casey's astute kicking game.

But it was through attacking the line that Casey made the first mark on the scoresheet, ghosting through a gap on the left-hand side to score after seven minutes.

A solid scrum produced the Sassenachs' second try though openside Dillon Hunt, who powered over after three post-scrum phase.

Casey added the extra two.

Prop George Bower extended the home side's lead to 17-0 after a rolling maul from an attacking lineout, and Casey's conversion took the score to 19-0.

Handling errors from the Sassenachs allowed the Southland shadow side back into the game, and midfield busts produced tries to DJ Collier and Keanu Kahukura.

One last handling error from the Spartans summed up the difficult conditions as referee Mitchell Will signalled halftime.

Replacement No8 Kyle Harris got the scoreline ticking over for the Sassenachs in the second half through a 15m dash to the line off the back of a scrum before replacement first-five Josh Ioane took the score to 29-12 following good lead-up work from fullback Mitchell Scott and second five-eighth Sio Tomkinson.

Replacement halfback Jonathan Ruru added the Sassenachs' sixth try before outside back Tino Mafoe scored for the Spartans, but a try on fulltime to Thomas Umaga-Jensen gave the Sassenachs a deserved 22-point win.

Brown was pleased with the score, considering the environmental challenges.

"It was a bit of a shame the conditions were the way they were, but I thought both teams tried to play as much as they could.

"I was happy enough and happy to get through with no injuries as well.''

Brown said Zingari-Richmond lock Tom Rowe "put his hand up a wee bit'' and the scrum impressed him.



Sassenachs v Spartans
The scores

Sassenachs             41

Josh Casey, Dillon Hunt, George Bower, Kyle Harris, Josh Ioane, Jonathan Ruru, Thomas Umaga-Jensen tries; Casey 2 con, Ruru con

Spartans                  19

DJ Collier, Keanu Kahukura, Tino Mafoe tries; D'Angelo Leiuila con, Mafoe con

Halftime: Sassenachs 19-12. 

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