A large crowd gathered at Shoalhaven Rugby Park to watch the round nine first grade clash between the Shoalhaven Ex Servicemens’ Shoals and the Campbelltown Harlequins – celebrating 50 years of the Shoalhaven Rugby Club. Buoyed by the occasion, the home side ran out through a tunnel of old boys and supporters who travelled far and wide for the historic weekend.
The first half saw the visitors dominate possession and field position but couldn’t capitalise this into points. With one of their early opportunities, Steve Brandon was able to score out wide after the inside backs created space on the outside.
Campbelltown’s biggest weapon was their scrum carrying a significant weight advantage and applied huge pressure at set piece time near Shoal’s goal line. Despite being a man down in the sin bin and entrenched in their own half, a break from both Steve and Mark Brandon down the eastern touchline led to a try to Matt Spresser.
A further try to Mark Brandon after picking up a loose pass from the opposition had Shoalhaven going to the break up 19-0 and a demoralised opposition. The second half saw Campbelltown pick up where they left with possession and were finally able to get across the line for their first points of the game.
This was short lived with Graham Porter pouncing on a charge down from the Shoals forwards to score under the posts and restore their half-time lead 26-7. Another try to each side saw Shoalhaven run out winners 33-14.
Despite their set piece needing work, the home side was stoic in defence and brilliant in counter-attack. Best players for Shoalhaven were Sam Watts, Mark Brandon and Steve Brandon.
The WorkforceXS/Soilco Shoalhaven second grade side faced a Campbelltown side that were several places above the home side on the ladder.
Campbelltown started strong with an early try and dominated the early part of the game. Shoalhaven were able to hit back with a try of their own to Kyronn Simmonds from a barnstorming run. Although the home side went into the break 12-5 down, they had the better of the opportunities in the second half with several breaks but were let down in the end with an errant kick or pass that missed the mark. However, the home side was left to rue these missed opportunities but were good enough to come away with a point from a 12 all draw.
Best players for Shoalhaven were Matt Lane, Jimmy Hendrix and Dane Bowen.
The Shoalhaven third grade side came into the match on a four-game winning streak and have started to recapture the form that took them the premiership last year.
Through solid defence and strong running in and around the ruck with ball in hand, Shoalhaven were able to cross for four tries to one in the first half to go into the break ahead 22-10.
Solid carries from the likes of Dave Roebuck, Ben Dennis and Joey Calcraft put Shoalhaven on the front foot and some crunching tackles from Tim Murphy in the second half, Shoalhaven went on with the job and a comfortable victory 34-15.
Best players for Shoalhaven were Ben Dennis, Tim Murphy and Joey Calcraft.