The Moruya Sharks were at home to the Narooma Red Devils in the local derby on Sunday for round three of the Group 16 premiership.
The Sharks were without classy pivot Jake Clarke, prop Shane Colebrook and utility player Hayden Murray - all ruled out through injury – while Joel Pietsch, was unavailable due to other commitments.
Coach Tim Weyman filled the voids by elevating under 18s player Luc Hill to the starting line-up as lock, playing utility Justin Bell at half-back and switching playmaker Aaron Brierley to the five-eighth role.
David Gwynne also started in the second row while Lee Nye, Brent Pan, Brent Ayton and Jock McNaughton were on the bench after playing in the lower grades.
On a mild overcast afternoon the teams took to the paddock in front of a good crowd, who had gathered to see if the Devils could upset the reigning premiers on their own turf.
The Sharks looked in control, making good metres in the ruck and dominating field position. Moruya scored in the 5th minute when hard-running second rower Dillon Johnston found himself on the end of a good backline movement to cross out wide, but Aaron Brierley’s conversion was waved away.
The Devils were next to post points when against the run of play the ball was swung wide into the hands of their American import Roderigus Ceasar, who showed blistering speed to outflank the Sharks defence and swerve around the Sharks’ fullback Dennis Green to post an equaliser.
The conversion giving the Devils are 6-4 lead.
Scoring took a back seat for the next 15 minutes with the game punctuated by penalties and stoppages in play.
Both teams having chances but neither able to convert until in the 22nd minute, hard running centre Vinney Marino was able to cross for his first try in Sharks colours.
This opened the floodgate for the Sharks with tries to Justin Bell and Caine Brierley prior to the break.
The second of these tries scored while Aaron Brierley was serving a 10-minute stint in the sin-bin for repeated offences in the ruck. The half-time score 20-6 in favour of Moruya.
The second half commenced with the Sharks scoring through a tough dummy-half run from Luke Jay, followed soon after by the try of the day which started with a backline movement which saw the ball get to Jermaine Connolly on the wing, who made good yards before executing a perfectly timed pass 20-metres back into the ever-present Dennis Green, who planted the ball beneath the sticks.
Jay posted his second for the day soon after to have the Sharks leading 38-6 with 20 minutes remaining to play. Narooma to its credit did not give up with Tyson Moritz scoring for the visitors to reduce the margin .
Scoring wrapped up in the 72nd minute when Vinney Marino posted his second after bursting onto an inside ball to race the 40 metres to the tryline. The final score 42-12 in favour of Moruya.
Coach Tim Weyman was happy with the effort by his side and praised everyone who contributed. The coach singled out big brother Michael for his wholehearted effort, while also nominating Jay and Marino for their performances. Hill impressed in his first full first grade game for the Sharks, while Alex Stewart was again impressive.
The players’ player award went to Marino.
Moruya 42: Tries: Dillon Johnston 1, Caine Brierley 1, Luke Jay 2, Vinney Marino 2, Justin Bell 1, Dennis Green 1. Goals: Aaron Brierley 5/7.
The Sharks have the week off with Group 16 playing Group 6 at Batemans Bay next weekend.
Reggies surge in second half
The Moruya reserves were keen to back up their strong performance at home last week by taking it up to the Devils early.
Unfortunately it did not go to plan with Narooma crossing first for a 4-nil lead early.
The Sharks posted points in the 14th minute, when James Nye crossed out wide off a crisp backline movement. Adrian Andy, who is starting to get back some fitness and form as he pushes for a first grade spot, scored shortly after.
Jacob Hill capitalised on one of his many breaks up the centre of the ruck when he crossed just before half-time and Charlie Nye’s first conversion had the half-time score at 14-4 in favour of Moruya.
The second half commenced with new player Brent Pan crossing for the Sharks, followed by Hill’s second try for the day.
Narooma managed to reduce the gap with a try of their own before the Sharks scored three more tries, one to Warren Potts, who looked dangerous all day, and the last two to evergreen pivot Charlie Nye. The final score an impressive 40-10 victory.
Coach Mick Cottington praised his troops for a good team effort and the go-forward of his engine room led by Brent Ayton, Zach Ingram and Jeffrey McWhinney.
Warren Potts, Nathan McDiarmid and Lance Nye capitalised on this go-forward to create opportunities for the backs, while Hill created numerous opportunities out of dummy-half.
Moruya 40: Tries: Warren Potts 1, James Nye 1, Jacob Hill 2, Brent Pan 1, Adrian Andy 1, Charlie Nye 1. Goals: Charlie Nye 4/8.
Sharkettes spike She-Devils
The Sharkettes were at home to last year’s minor premiers Narooma, in what was expected to be a close contest.
The game began as an end-to-end contest with neither side able to get ascendancy and defence was the key.
It took until the 16th minute for the deadlock to be broken, when Hannah Cadogan scored for four-pointer. Elka Pike converted to have the Sharkettes up 6-nil, a score which lasted until half-time.
The second half began with Cadogan going in for her second after just two minutes.
The 10-nil scoreline remaining until seven minutes from full-time, when the Sharkettes stretched its lead to 16-nil through a try to Alisha Meek converted by Elka Pike.
The Sharkettes conceding their only points of the game with just three minutes left on the clock, going on to post a well deserved 16-6 victory.
The Sharkettes’ defence was excellent and the girls have really improved in this department under new coach Shaun Pike, who has been able to build on the good work of previous coaches Lana Badullovich and Amber Weyman.
Of benefit to Pike is the fact that both Badullovich and Weyman are able to bring their experience on the playing field, free of the responsibility of coaching.
The Sharkettes have now proven that they are a real force in this competition and will continue to grow and develop as a team.
Moruya 16: Tries: Hannah Cadogan 2, Alisha Meek 1. Goals: Elka Pike 2/3.
All-square in under 18s
In a rematch of round one, the Moruya Sharks faced off against Merimbula-Pambula in the under 18s.
Keen to make-up for the round one loss the Sharks were immediately put on the back-foot when the Bulldogs posted the first points, streaking to a 6-nil lead after just five minutes.
The young Sharks worked their way back into the game, and took control in the 17th minute with tries in quick succession to Byron Brunhuber, Luc Hill and Reece Nye, which had the sharks going to the sheds at half time with a 12-6 lead after all three conversion attempts were waved away.
The second half saw the Sharks on the back-foot as the Bulldogs hit back with two quick tries to take a 16-12 lead. Once again the Sharks consolidated and slowly gained ascendancy, taking the lead through tries to Jesse Robertson, and a second to Brunhuber to take their lead to 22-16 with a conversion by Jarrod Cottington.
A second try to Reece Nye, taking the Sharks to what appeared to be a comfortable 26-16 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
However the young Sharks succumbed to mistakes and poor decision making to concede two late tries to escape with a 26-all draw despite scoring six tries to five.
The Sharks, proving that they can match it with any team in this competition with determination and skill, they just need a little more composure and polish and calm heads when needed.
Kicking was another factor which let them down on the day with goalkicking ultimately being the difference between the two sides.
Coach Dan Thurlow, while pleased with the boys commitment and desire, was disappointed with some of the poor choices and lack of ball security that cost the team the valuable competition point they deserved.
Thurlow refused to single out anyone for special mention, just saying that it was a team effort.
Among those to stand out for the Sharks was Luc Hill and hooker Murray Stewart, who gave good service from dummy-half.
Moruya 26: Tries: Byron Brunhuber 2, Luc Hill 1, Reece Nye 1, Jesse Robertson 1, James Nye 1. Goals: Jarrod Cottington 1.