THE Berry-Shoalhaven Heads Magpies have broken through for their first win of the 2018 Group Seven campaign, defeating the Stingrays of Shellharbour 50-38.
At the Berry Showground, it was the visitors who scored first through Matt Murray before Magpies captain/coach Luke Ryder responded, after receiving a sharp pass from Josh Ingold.
The hosts hit the lead when hooker Blake Dryden hit Bill Ryder with an inside pass, for him to barge over.
The Stingrays then responded through Anthony Nabbe and Nathan Deaves, before Josh Coulter put Josh Ingold into space to score down the left touchline – which left it at 18-16 to the visitors at the break.
The Stingrays lead was extended three minutes after the resumption when Deaves bounced on a Nikki Hemopo grubber to score.
The eight point lead was then trimmed when Dryden put prop Jack Parrish over to score in the 47th minute – before some Coulter magic two minutes later saw the hosts regain the lead 26-24.
The Magpies were in full flight when Dryden darted out of dummy-half to score a try of his own – which was converted by Coulter, to stretch the lead to eight.
An offload by Sam Burns then set-up Rory McCall to score, making it 38-24 with 23 to play.
The Stingrays stayed in the hunt when winger Nathan Marecic and forward Lachlan Roache scored – reducing the lead to four.
But the hosts held their nerve, as tries to Blygh Herron and Joe Rogers, both thanks to the slick play of Dryden, secured the Magpies their first win of the season.
Kyle Robbie scored a late consolation try for the Stingrays, as the final score was 50-38.
“It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t our best performance, but we will take the win,” Magpies captain/coach Luke Ryder said.
“In the first half, they had a lot of ball, due to our errors, but we dug deep and managed to only be down by two at the break.
“At half-time, I reminded the boys to stick to what they know and look after the ball.
“This worked, as we got in front but disappointingly, we didn’t put our foot on the throat and let them back in a couple of times.
“Thankfully we held on – the boys learnt the important of grinding out the win, especially after that Milton loss.
“The club is headed in the right direction and we’ll gain a lot of confidence from that win.
“It’s up to us to build on that and keep improving, which all continues this weekend when we travel Kevin Walsh Oval to play Jamberoo.”
In the win, Ryder highlighted the solid performances on Coulter, Ryder, Parrish and McCall, while Stingrays coach Wayne Clarges was particularly happy with how Dylan Kerr, Shaun Baulch, Murray and Deaves played.