Players do team proud despite result

Front runner....Mataura player Li Ponini has plenty of support around him as he braces himself for a tackle during the Gerald Dermody Shield final against Collegiate at Mataura on Saturday. PHOTO:SANDY EGGLESTON

“We’re happy but we’re not happy” is Mataura co-coach Brett Roberts’ take on the team’s results this year.

Mataura, which entered a team in the Southland-wide division one competition for the first time in many years, was beaten 29-22 by Collegiate in the Gerald Dermody Shield final on Saturday.

It was pleasing to see the progress many players had made, given their inexperience at the start of the season, Roberts said.

About half the squad was 21 or younger.

He and co-coach Jason Bishop had “developed a lot of good young players”.

For all that, Saturday’s result was not what was hoped for.

“They did us proud but it was disappointing at the end of the day.”

Collegiate made a great start to the game, scoring twice in the first 20 minutes.

Inside Collegiate’s 22 for the first time, prop Brett Roberts jun placed a grubber kick in the perfect place for Tyson Crown to run on to and score in the corner.

Collegiate led 17-7 at halftime.

In the second half, the Mataura forward pack kept the ball tight.

“We used our forwards a lot more grind,” Roberts said.

The two teams traded points but Mataura never made up the deficit, despite a strong finish.

“The damage had already been done by then.”

Roberts could not fault the team’s effort.

“They tried hard and didn’t throw the towel in.”

Both teams played a similar game of rugby, he said.

“We like to throw [the ball] around as often as we can and on the day their passes stuck and ours didn’t, really.

“It was a great atmosphere and everyone enjoyed it and reckoned it was a good game from the sideline.”