ROUND four of the Illawarra District Rugby Union competition saw Shoals travel to Kiama for the local derby against their long term foes.
The Shoalhaven ExServicemens /Printer Corp first grade side is slowly getting into gear but these early matches while providing solid hit outs for the new combinations are proving troublesome.
Kiama on the other hand has started the season in fine fettle, posting solid wins over Tech Tahs and then last year’s premiers, Camden.
They are a well-balanced side with willing forwards and speedy backs.
They scored when they needed to and proved just a bit too fast and powerful for a willing Shoals team.
After leading by 22-7 at half-time, Kiama scored a further three tries in the second half against Shoals’ two tries and ran out winners by 39-17.
Shoals again had a changed backline with Saw Watts moving to full-back and Steve Holmes running at five eighth.
It took both a little time to adjust to their new spots but once they settled in they each had strong games.
Mitch Hardy partnered equally burly lock Aaron Louden and both had strong games, winning good ball in the line outs, carrying the ball up hard in close to the rucks and generally whacking any Kiama forward that got close.
Breakaway Tom Horton again was both brilliant in attack and defence and each week provides his team with outstanding service.
Adam Sargent played well at number eight and featured throughout with his surging runs and boot level tackles.
Kiama roared into the game in a welter of flying attacking raids, with the ball being spun all around the park.
They unsettled Shoals early and gained a penalty within kicking range at the 12 minute mark.
Their kicker was on target and they went to an early three points lead.
Shoals marched back into the fray with great verve and flair and pushed Kiama over and under the turf.
They settled into their rhythm in fine style and quickly launched their speedy winger, Stuey, into the open.
He flew over the ground and hurtled in for a try out wide.
Holmes’ conversion attempt soared majestically over the bar and Shoals had an early 7-3 lead at the 15 minute mark.
However Shoals’ try served to spur Kiama on to greater effort and it was not long before they too had their first try with a scintillating back line move that ended with their winger racing over near the corner post.
The conversion attempt fell just short of the posts but they now had a slender lead.
They dominated the remainder of the half, securing possession and locking it up in their forwards until they were ready to launch their impressive back line. Shoals’ Dillon Marshall, out in the centres, crash tackled a host of Kiama fast men but eventually the pressure told and they went in for tries at the 30 minute mark and then right on the half-time break.
The second half of the game was a competitive affair with Shoals using their big forwards to rampage up the middle.
They progressively wore Kiama down and went close to scoring in the first few minutes but loose passes undid their great early work.
It was from a loose pass on Kiama’s 22 metre line that the ball was toed ahead by Kiama’s outside backs and their winger won the foot race for the rolling ball and raced away for an 80 metre try.
They followed this up with another slightly lucky try and by the 15th minute of the half had taken the lead by 34-7.
Shoals then began a fight back.
They camped in Kiama’s half for the next 10 minutes and finally broke through out wide for a well-constructed try.
Tom Horton flew high to take the ball from the restart and Shoals looked certain to score from the kick off but a vital pass was knocked down by a desperate defence.
Kiama won the ball from the ensuing play and again raced away for a long range try.
Shoals finished the game with a flourish and after a good build up they went over for their third try just before full-time.
Shoals played extremely well in patches and as this side gains greater cohesion it will begin to be a force later in the competition.
Best players for Shoals were Tom Horton, Adam Sargent and Mitch Hardy.
Shoals have a bye next weekend and then on Saturday, May 24 they travel to Camden.
They return to Ricoh Rugby Park on Saturday, May 31 for their game against Tech Tahs.
This will also be the annual Green Steam Day at this home game which has proved more than memorable in past years.