THE Shoalhaven Rugby Club has maintained its strong form this pre-season, reaching the grand final of the weekend’s Hamilton Rugby Sevens.
After making it all way through to the decider, the Shoals fell in decider by three points to hosts, Hamilton A.
“This is the third sevens competition we’ve been in this pre-season, which is great,” Shoals co-coach Paul Clements said.
“The first two consisted of a lot of invitational and representative sides and while we were competitive and held our own at those two, a chance to test ourselves against other club teams in Hamilton was a good opportunity.
“It is also a good lead up tournament with the big one, the Kiama sevens only two weekends away.”
With last year’s coach Michael Hayes moving on, Clements and Paul Connor have taken the reigns for 2017 and are impressed with what the squad has shown thus far.
“Paul and I were stoked for the boys - it’s a big ask to show turn up through summer for sevens rugby training knowing there's still a full season of 15-a-side to get through around the corner but they kept turning up, putting in and developing their games,” Clements said.
“The sevens program has been great for the boys fitness and confidence moving into the season and we've been able to give a few local blokes from the other codes a taste of the game they play in heaven, which I think they've really enjoyed.
“Everyone played well through the day and they can all hold their holds high.
“Just taking the field in 42 degree heat is a big effort in itself, so all the boys deserve a lot of praise and recognition.
“The coaches player of the day was Jack Watts, who never gave up and left it all out of the field.”
Following the Kiama sevens, Clement admits the squad will ramp up preparations for their assault on the Illawarra Rugby competition, which starts on March 25 against Bowral at Eridge Park.
“The season is shaping up really well for 15-a-side,” he said.
“We're back to having all three grades (first grade, seconds and colts) and the pre-season numbers have been great and the work we've been doing will hold us in good stead for the big season ahead.
“It’s hard to identify aspects of sevens that would need to improve for the 15s version, as they're very different games.
“The boys played outstandingly and as coaches, Paul Connor and I were really happy with everyone’s efforts and are excited for the challenge that lies ahead in the future.”
Shoals seven squad: Angus Maddinson, Pumba Spresser, Blake Lamond, Jack Watts, Steven Brandon, Mark Brandon, Rory McCall, Stuart Scibberas, Ava Rabotioga, Harri Hibbs, Jamaine Crossley, Patrick Connor, Alistair Flanders and Will Ray.
The Shoals will be holding their season launch on Sunday, February 26 at the Archer Racecourse from 11am. For more info, contact Paul on 0413 595 771.