Rugby report: Shoals sink Shamrocks in dying moments

Shoals' Jack Watts. Photo: DAMIAN McGILL

Shoals' Jack Watts. Photo: DAMIAN McGILL

In an inspirational game based on torrid defence, the Shoals 1st grade team finished off Shamrocks with a Jack Watts’ penalty goal in the last few seconds of the match.

Shoals had led 11-8 at the break and in a low scoring second half finally won the tough encounter 14-11.

Due to a raft of injuries Shoals took to the field with a makeshift side but the effort the team put in to win this match showed that they have the spirit to beat the odds.

Shamrocks were sitting a couple of places above Shoals on the table and as usual they fielded a well drilled side. Their backline always look slick but despite many extended plays they could only put the one try on the board. Shoals pretty much tackled them out of the game.

Shamrocks opened the scoring with a penalty just 4 minutes in despite running into a stiffish breeze. Jack Watts responded with a booming long range goal from near halfway at the 12 minute mark that tied up the score.

From there, Shamrocks relentlessly attacked Shoalies’ line. They held firm for 15 minutes but were finally cracked when an array of quick passes along the backline resulted in Shamrock’s winger flying over in the corner.

Play worked backwards and forwards for the next 10 minutes until a deftly placed kick by half Paul Clements put his side on attack. The ball was spun to Jack Watts on the 40-metre mark and he brushed off several would be tacklers and broke into the clear.

He looked certain to score but was run down just a metre short of the line. From the ensuing ruck the ball was worked speedily out to Matt Spresser who sped over wide out. The failed conversion attempt left the scoreline at 8 points each.

Shamrocks failed to keep the ball in play from the restart and opened the field up for Shoalies. A few moments later Shamrocks were penalised about 45 metres from their goal line. Watts’ penalty shot at goal never looked off line and he took his side to a three-point lead which they held to the break.

Shamrocks looked to be well on top in the second half running downhill with the breeze. However despite a glut of possession and a dominance of field position they could not crack Shoalie’s determined defence. Shoalies occasionally crept into enemy territory but only rarely.

Shoalies held their line for a full 40 minutes of this half despite a continuous pounding. It was a great wholehearted team effort that saw them make tackle after tackle. On more than a few occasions Shamrocks crossed the try line only to be held up. They received a stream of penalties but always opted to go for a try rather than a penalty shot. Perhaps unwisely as it proved.

At the 30-minute mark after Shoalies made a rare incursion into their opponent’s half Watts had a shot at a penalty goal. His attempt was flagged away. From there Shamrocks made their last ditch effort to take the match. They camped on Shoalies’ line and threw everything into scoring a match-winning try. Their forwards bashed and barged but could not get through. Then their backs had a go but with unflinching defence Shoalies held them out. Finally they gave up trying and on receiving a penalty kicked the goal to tie up the match at 11 points each with just two minutes left on the clock.

The restart gave Shoalies the chance to work their way deep intro Shamrocks’ end of the field. They secured the ball from the kick off and their forwards did some bashing and barging of their own. Shamrock’s desperation to retrieve the ball brought an error and with just seconds remaining Watts lined up for a shot at a winning goal from 35 metres out and 15 metres from the posts. As the kick sailed through the jubilation from the Shoalies’ players and supporters was apparent to all. A great win against the odds.

Shoals move on to play two home games in a row. Next Saturday against Avondale and then against Tech Tahs on Saturday, July 1.

Shoals 2nd Grade team came away with a draw against the 4th placed Shamrocks side. Shoals held the lead 14-7 at the break after running with quite a strong wind at their backs.  Shamrocks capitalised on the following wind in the second half and outscored Shoals by 10 points to 3 to tie up the game.

Shoals were quite dominant in the first half with Tom Sims taking full advantage of the favourable wind with 40 and 50 metre kicks. These put his side on the attack from which they extracted numerous penalties. Corey Lee knocked 3 of these over to keep his side of the scoreboard ticking over. Shamrocks managed to score a well-earned try through their speedy backs at the 12-minute mark but the successful conversion ended their scoring for the half. Shoals needed to earn more points before the break and they did this with a resounding try to Ben Horton just before the final whistle.

The second half was a low-scoring period with Shoals needing to defend for much of the time. They did this well ceding just the one converted try. Shamrocks took the lead 17-14 with 10 minutes remaining through a penalty goal. However Shoals responded near full-time with a penalty goal of their own to tie up the match.

Top of the ladder Shoals 3rd grade team scored a good win against a strong Shamrocks side. After leading 12-7 at the break Shoalies posted two tries in the second half while keeping Shamrocks pointless to take the match 24-7.