illawarra District Rugby Union
THE Shoalhaven ExServicemens /Printer Corp first grade side travelled to Gerry Capetta Oval, Dapto, to take on the strong Avondale Club with the aim of securing competition points to take them past Vikings and into the semi-finals. It was not to be and Shoals were severely outgunned in the first half of the game to see their hopes disappear over the far mist-covered hills.
Avondale has given some of the top teams in the IDRU competition a severe flogging and while Shoals held their own in the second half, they found the going tough.
Avondale ran in six tries in the first half to lead 38-7 at the break.
Shoals matched up well in the second half and kept Avondale from scoring for the first 30 minutes of this period of play.
They leaked three tries near the end to yield Avondale the win, 57-7.
When they are on a roll, Avondale are relentless and switch the ball around their big, fast players at a fantastic rate.
They scored tries in the sixth, 10th, 15th, 18th, 20th and 25th minutes to put Shoals well and truly on the ropes.
Shoals’ one really bright spot in this half was the rewarding try to breakaway Tom Horton, who had an outstanding game in attack and defence.
Not far behind Horton were Mitch Hardy, James Smith and Adam Sargent.
Keiran Brandon had a rousing match knocking over the marauding back line players time after time to display his defensive skills, which compare favourably to his scintillating attacking ones.
Shoals played valiantly but were outmuscled and out sped by the huge and fast players spread right through the Avondale 15.
While it was disappointing Shoals did not reach the semi-finals this year, they had a memorable second round series which almost took them across the line. Victories against semi-finalists Shamrocks, Vikings and Camden, plus good wins against Kiama and Tech-Tahs rocketed Shoals up the ladder.
Their first round games were the problem where they lost quite a few games by three points or less.
This has been a building year for Shoals after the loss of some seasoned, quality players.
The younger players have stepped up and really blossomed this season, with Keegan Stevens, the Brandon brothers, Trent Dickinson, Dillon Marshall, Tim Lovett, Jack Watts, Ethan and Gareth Davis and others leading the way.
Shoals’ first year coach, Scott Jones, has worked hard with his charges and blended the older heads with the younger players into a strong side.
Shoals’ off field events in 2013 have again created many fine memories for past and present players as well as all involved with the club.
The naming of Shoals’ main stand, The Alan Calcraft Stand, was a most fitting tribute to one of Shoals’ finest players, administrators, sponsors and ambassadors of the great game.
The home game against Wollongong University for the Foster Emery Shield, passed to University this year, is a great reminder of an honoured Shoals’ rugby legend. The second Digger Day was most memorable with Rick Meehan stepping up again to organise another remarkable event.
Bigger and better in 2014 leading in to the commemoration of 100 years of the ANZAC tradition.
Finally the traditional and remarkably stimulating Green Steam Day saw the ground festooned with colour, pomp and no little swigging.
Season 2014 awaits at Shoalhaven Ricoh Rugby Park, bring it on.