THE Shoalhaven ExSer-vicemens/Printer Corp first grade side has struggled to gain a foothold in the Ilawarra District Rugby Union Comp-etition in its matches this season but turned the corner with a thumping win over the boys from Bowral.
In a powerful display of running rugby Shoals racked up three tries in the first half and raced in another five in the second half to run out winners by 52 points to nil. The team played as a unit with the forwards in dynamic form giving their speedy backline a ton of ball to work their magic.
Shoals ran onto the field with a different side yet again but despite the changes there was strong team cohesion that was missing in earlier games. James Smith was welcomed back to the side and had a whale of the game. His running with the ball was awesome, while his tackling was devastating. Ben Dennis’s return to the side of the scrum brought in a player of rare talent and aggression and many a Bowral player will anoint his bruises this evening in fond remembrance of meeting Ben on a dark pitch. Ben also took the ball up hard and was rewarded for his efforts with a brace of hard won tries. Dom Whittingham strode majestically in the centres until injured and made his mark with some telling mid field bursts.
Shoals young guns all fired with the speedy and elusive centre, Matt Spressor, having by far his best game in the top grade. His pace and power were never more evident than when he scorched into the play from a set piece in mid field and raced through the defensive line, veered to sprint along the touch line and the try would have been set up from his inside kick except for a lousy bounce of the ball. Steve Holmes had a fine all round game while Josh Dennis showed all his class and whiles in a dominant display at five-eighth. Giant lock, Mitch Hardy, also had a towering game winning endless line out ball, elegantly loping about the field with his huge strides and generally causing untold mayhem wherever he went. Possibly the best on the field for Shoals was their very fast, elusive and terrific young breakaway, Jarrod Burten who capped of his great game with a 50 metre powering away try, 10 minutes into the second half. Also having fine games were the youngsters Tom Aney and Kiall Kilgallon who worked hard in close and stiffened their side’s defensive effort.
Shoals opened the scoring after just six minutes of play when their right winger flashed over the line after a good build up by the forwards. Bowral fought back for a while and tied Shoals up and it was not until the 20th minute that they again turned the scoreboard over. This was when Ben Dennis scored his first try after the forwards had created the opportunity from a 10-metre line out. Matt Spressor finished Shoals’ first half effort with a try out wide after some slick passing by his inside men. Shoals went to the sheds leading by 19 points to nil.
The second half belonged to Shoals as they camped for lengthy periods inside Bowral’s half. They scored tries at regular intervals running them in at the five minute mark, then after 15 minutes, 18 minutes, 25 minutes and finally just before full time. The best of these tries was undoubtedly the one scored by Burten, but the others were not too far behind. Dennis went over for his second, then James Smith off a thundering run up the middle, then Steve Holmes with Mitch Hardy finishing the try scoring for the day. While Bowral tried hard and tackled with zeal they could not stop Shoals as they built up a head of steam. Sam Watts had a good day with the boot, converting six of the eight tries with a couple of boomers from the side line. Best players for Shoals were James Smith, Ben Dennis and Matt Spressor.
Shoals now move onto the final game of the first round against University of Wollongong at Wollongong. Then on June 28 Shoals travel away again to play Vikings. Shoals return to Ricoh Rugby Park on July 5 for the game against Shamrocks.