THE Shoalhaven ExServicemens/Printer Corp first grade side played at home in their local derby against Kiama on Saturday.
Shoals came hoping for a reversal of a sizeable first round loss to Kiama but found the visitors too slick and well drilled although, in patches, Shoals more than matched them up front.
In the end it was Kiama’s backline that did the damage with their big and fast right winger wreaking havoc whenever he had space and ball.
As the ball seemed to follow him around the park he was able to race in for a hat-trick of tries as he proved to be pretty unstoppable close to the line.
All up Kiama raced in nine tries, four in the first half to record a healthy win over a Shoals’ side that again had plenty of tackling practice.
Kiama led 26-12 at the half-time break and scored 31-5 in the second to run out winners by 57-17.
Shoals changed their side around a fair bit with Matt Spressor running at half back, Josh Dennis at full back and Tui Aberhama as breakaway.
Generally these changes worked fairly well despite the side being under constant pressure.
The game was but a pup when Shoals opened the scoring after a whirlwind start to the game.
They raced into the play from the kick off and rucked and rolled around the park at high speed.
It was not long before big and burly Tim Lovett tore onto the ball close to Kiama’s line, and with a fearsome lunge for the line, converted the early pressure into a well won try.
Sam Watts knocked over the conversion and Shoals had an early 7-nil lead.
Kiama showed their class by piling into the ruck from the restart of play and engineering some smart rugby to take play close to Shoals’ line.
A few moments later their winger was on the end of some slick back line play and strolled over near the corner post.
Shoals again upped the ante and, with Tom Horton and James Smith leading the way, they pummelled their way deep into Kiama’s territory.
From a lineout 10 metres from the line the ball was given to James Smith, who loves nothing more than a head on charge through the thick of things.
He bashed and barged his way through the defence and planted the ball down for a well-deserved five-pointer.
Shoals had the lead by 12-5 at the 15 minute mark.
However from that point on Kiama took control of the rest of the half and indeed the game.
The next to score was Kiama’s deft stepping hooker who dummied and swerved his way past numerous tacklers and found the try line.
Then it was over to Kiama’s outside backs who carved Shoal’s up out wide to score two further tries before the half-time break.
Shoals went to the sheds down 26-12.
Kiama had by far the better of the second half.
Shoals seemed to tire noticeably as they had little ball and were forced to chase this well-drilled team all over the field.
Kiama rattled in tries at fairly regular intervals scoring one at every eight minute mark, mostly to their classy winger and centre.
Shoals at times got on a roll but spoiled things somewhat by constantly booting the ball into the waiting arms of their opponent’s most dangerous players.
Tom Horton stood out for the home side with his ferocious tackling and ball winning at the break down and he was ably supported by Aberhama and Smith who played tireless games in both attack and defence.
Smith demonstrated his awesome powers with a second crash through try under the sticks just at the death.
Unfortunately his shot at conversion just swung wide at the last minute which just proved to the doubters that props are seldom goal kickers.
This was a good game to watch as the scoreboard ticked over at some pace.
Chad Fraser again showed his class, winning heaps of lineout ball and threw in many damaging runs and a host of crashing tackles.
Kiama lie in third place on the ladder having recruited well in the off season. Shoals however showed that if they can get just a bit fitter and more familiar with one another’s play that they could prove troublesome in the final few games.
Best players for Shoals were James Smith, Tom Horton and Chad Fraser.
Shoals do not play next weekend as the competition tales a one week break.
They play again at home on Saturday, August 2against the Camden Club.
This will also be the annual Digger Day, which has proved spectacularly successful in the last two years.
With the day being organised by Rick Meehan, it will be a thrilling spectacle as well as a truly fitting tribute to honour the service men and women of Australia.
The now usual spectacular features will be on display with parachutists, helicopters and other service activities leading the way.
The club asks all its supporters and friends to make their way to Ricoh Rugby Park to support this great event.
However for those attending please note that the main events will take place earlier than in past years.
Further details on timing will be made available later in the week.
THE Coffee Fix/Cookes Tyre Service Shoals’ second grade has played well in most of its games this year.
When fully armoured and switched on this team can mix it with the best.
Kiama sits well above Shoals on the ladder but were no match for a fired up Shoals that went about the business of winning in exhilarating style.
Shoals posted six tries to nil in the game scoring three in each half.
It is rare to hold sides in this competition to nil but this is what Shoals achieved through their dynamic defensive effort and hard running with the ball. They led 17-nil at the break and cruised away to win 34-nil at the final bell.
Shoals took to the field with a strong looking side that mixed class, experience, youth and bravado in fairly equal portions.
The veteran brothers Sproule galloped about the field in delightful fashion as they revelled in their forward roll while youngsters Grahame Porter and Pat Conner romped about with high enthusiasm.
The game was just a few minutes old when big Tom Aney burst through a dogged defence to post the first try.
A towering conversion took them to a seven-points lead.
However the game tightened up from there with neither side looking dominant. Both sides had scoring opportunities, perhaps Shoals with slightly more, but neither could convert these into points.
Shoals, however, got it together at the 30 minute mark when Mark Sproule gathered in a looping pass from his full back and evaded a number of would-be tacklers to scorch over out wide.
The kick went wide but his side was on a roll.
It was not long before Shoals’ speedy winger hopped into the action with a fine try just before the half time whistle.
His try was set up by a sizzling burst of speed and agility by prop, Chris O’Connell, who roared 60 metres up the field with ball tucked securely under his left arm and when tackled just short of the line managed to leak it to his supportive winger.
Again the conversion was off target but Shoals went to the break leading 17-nil.
Shoals dominated the second half although in some ways should have put even more points on the board than they did.
Their defence was resolute and their attack was dynamic at times.
They were only rarely put under pressure as they spent most of the half camped well inside Kiama’s territory.
The whole team put in a tremendous effort and were rewarded with a win.
Shoals’ prop, Chris O’Connell, opened the second half scoring with a bruising try while Mark Sproule notched his brace with a sharp burst of speed out wide. Replacement player, Nick Falzon, finished off the try scoring with a galloping run away try close to the end of the match.
Best players for Shoals were Mark and Dave Sproule and Pat Conner.