THE Shoalhaven Rugby Club will look to start their Illawarra District Rugby Union 2014 season on a high this Saturday with first and second grade wins over the Vikings.
The club has had a slight shakeup with new first grade coach John Sullivan and club captain Mitch Hardy.
With the home game advantage at Shoalhaven Rugby Park, Hardy is confident his first grade team will be up to pace against the Vikings despite the loss of Mark, Steven and Kieran Brandon, who switched codes to rugby league.
“We have a lot of size, especially the tight five this year, and a couple of good, mobile and strong guys playing loose,” he said.
“At the back we have lost players, but a few boys have stepped up, and what we lost in attack we will make up with a strong defensive back line.”
Shoals defeated Vikings in a 32-31 thriller in their second last game of the 2013 season, but a 57-7 loss to Avondale in the final round saw their semi-final hopes dashed.
“This year will be a rebuilding year for us, but in saying that, I don’t think the semis will be totally out of the question, so we will push for a semi-final spot,” Hardy said.
Hardy was unsure of any Vikings losses, but knows they will be a tough team to beat with a NSW Country coach, and some Illawarra representatives.
“We expect they will be strong in the back and forwards so it will be a good first hit up for us,” he said.
Apart from the rugby, the day will have plenty of action for the family off field with a jumping castle, face painting, balloons, craft and barbecue, to name a few.
A raffle will also be drawn with the chance to win four gold tickets to either the Waratahs v Bulls match on April 19 at Allianz Stadium, Moore Park, or the Waratahs v Brumbies on June 28 at ANZ Stadium, Homebush.
Second grade kick off at 1.30pm, with firsts at 3pm.
The Shoals seniors can be followed on the club website www.shoalhaven.
rugbynet.com.au, or juniors at is www.shoaliesjuniors.rugbynet.com.
The club is also on Facebook and Twitter @shoalhavenrugby for score updates during matches.