The Shoals 1st grade team played courageously in their away game against reigning premiers Wollongong University. Shoals players suffered a stream of injuries throughout this match which severely hampered their structures. Despite the many changes Shoals tackled the ever-flowing students with great commitment and would have made the game closer if not for the two quick tries University scored midway through the 2nd half when Shoals were a man down.
University, through their 3 tries to two in the first half, went to the break leading 17-12. They scored a further 3 tries to 2 in the second half to take the game 36-24. This was a hard-fought game with both teams needing to win to keep their finals hopes alive. University’s win secures them 4th spot running into the finals series.
University opened their scoring with a sizzling try to their livewire winger who raced around and over Shoals’ defenders to run in out wide. Play was pretty even for the next 10 minutes until University’s forwards pounded the line, finally securing a crash-over try.
Shoals fought back well over the next few minutes with strong runs by Jack Watts and Angus Clark. Then in the 25th minute Shoals’ centre, Chevvy Maloney, picked up a loose pass on his 22-metre line and burst into the open. There was a clear field in front of him as he set of for the long run to the try line.
He looked to be winning the foot race until University’s covering winger showed great pace to collar him about 15 metres from the line. However Maloney had built up such momentum that he carried both ball and player over the line for a sensational 5-pointer.
University came back hard and fast and as they did all game swept the ball across their backline with many planned moves. Shoals hunted well as a team and their covering tackles were often last gasp but did the job. However pressure told in the end and University’s pack drove over again in the 35th minute. The conversion took them to a 17-5 lead.
Shoals fought back just on halftime when a flying Duncan Maddinson finished off a great piece of play involving the whole backline and raced over near the corner post. Jack Watts’ conversion flew long and straight and Shoals went to the break down by only 5 points.
Shoals opened the 2nd half in with great flair. Their forwards won plenty of ball and their backs used it well. It was not long before they posted their 3rd try which was one of the best of the match.
Duncan Maddinson set the play alight with a blazing run which opened the defence up. He passed to a flying Ave Raboitoga who careered away for a try out wide. Watts was again on target and Shoals had claimed the lead by 2 points.
The next 10 minutes of the match was the crucial point when University secured their win. Shoals lost a man to the bin and University took full toll for this error. They were made to work hard for the points as Shoals tackled hard and often with Clark, Connor Smith, Tom Horton and all working overtime to stem the tide.
Still University used their backs to great effect and notched up 3 tries, two of which were converted, to rack up 19 points in a 15-minute spell. Shoals finished the match off well with a hard won try to Matt Spresser who came off his wing to surge up the middle of the field for the score.
Shoals play their final game of the 2nd round of the competition at home against Vikings next Saturday. All in all this has been a turnaround season for Shoals and they will finish higher up in the competition than in the last couple of years. Their 3rd grade side will finish close to top of the ladder and the club will have a team in the finals to carry its flag.
Shoals 2nd Grade played well but were slightly outgunned by a strong university side. University scored 6 tries to Shoals’ 4 tries. After leading 19-12 at the break they took the match 36-24.
Shoals drew level on the scoreboard after just 5 minutes of the 2nd half. Shoals’ five eight, Tom Sims, capped off a fine game with a thrilling mid field break that carried him deep into University territory. When cornered by the defence he threw a great inside pass to Angus Maddinson who strode away for the try. However the students came back hard and scored 3 tries in reasonably quick time to go out to a 36-19 lead. Shoals fought back well in the dying moments of the game to snatch a try close to full time..
Shoals 3rd grade have continued their dynamic form with a strong win over Wollongong University. They led 21-0 at the break and finished with a 28-5 victory. The students tightened up their defence in the 2nd half of the game and gave Shoals a pretty torrid time. However the evergreen Dave Sproule still managed to keep his try tally rising by barging over for a try late in the half.
Shoals play Vikings next Saturday to try to secure the top of the table. Vikings are one of the 4 teams that have broken away from the rest on the ladder. They scored a win over Shoals in the first round and will be looking to secure bragging rights as the competition moves into its finals phase.