Shoalhaven Ex Servicemen’s Shoals 1st grade team travelled to Wollongong for their second-round clash with Tech Tahs. On a cold, wind-swept and bone coloured ground, Tech proved just a bit too strong for a willing Shoals to avenge their first round loss. The game was evenly poised with Tech leading by the bare point at 15-14 at the break but their forwards began to dominate in the 2nd half to run out winners 27-14.
Shoals took a much changed side onto the field with injuries and other absences forcing replacements. Shoals were also hit hard with injuries during the game which served to unsettle their rhythm. At times Tech looked likely to overpower Shoals in the 2nd half but the defence stood up to the task and defended their line with grim purpose and no little courage under constant battering.
Tech opened the scoring with a good team try finished off by their left side winger at just the 2nd minute of play. Play then hopped around the park in fits and starts as the conditions made passing and catching the ball quite difficult. Finally Tech got it together at the 15-minute mark with their strong forward pack creating a push over try from a line out. These tries went unconverted and they had a 10-point lead.
Shoals then mounted their fightback. The ball was secured from the restart and after a few multi-phase flurries Matt Spresser, playing centre, roared into the line, scattered the defenders like fiddlesticks in the wind and strode away for a deserved try. Mark Brandon converted and Shoals were on the go.
Play again sauntered meaningfully around the field but with no obvious advantage to either side. Then at the 35-minute mark, Steve Brandon produced one of his scintillating runs. He gathered in the ball at the 40 metre mark and although he had most of the Tech players lined up in front of him he still managed to squeeze through some very small gaps, race into the open then weave his way around the full back and race over for a try underneath the posts. Again Mark Brandon’s conversion sailed through and Shoals had gone to a lead of 4 points. Tech fought back well in the final minute of the half to score a good team try just on the bell. They left the field leading by 15-14.
The 2nd half was a low scoring affair. Tech’s forwards began to dominate play and took control of possession and territory. They raced in for a well-constructed try after just 2 minutes to extend their lead to 6 points. Shoals found it uphill going but fought hard to keep their line intact from that point. Shoals rarely had the ball in the first 20 minutes of the half but tackled then tackled again as Tech’s big men threw everything at scoring more points. Finally Shoals defence cracked at the 20 minute mark and Tech forced their way over for a converted try.
The last 20 minutes of the match saw Shoals trying to turn the tables and with abundant possession and a tiring Tech team they were in the hunt. They launched attacking raid after attacking raid at Tech but through a combination of tough Tech defence and some loose Shoals’ passing they just could not get the ball over the line. Play finished for the afternoon with Shoals taking yet another tap penalty close to Tech’s line but unable to breach the defensive shield.
Shoals play 3rd placed Vikings at Rugby Park next Saturday and then again play at home against Shamrocks the following Saturday. These games lead into Digger Day 2018 at Rugby Park on Saturday 28th July with the local derby matches against Kiama.
The WorkforceXS/Soilco Shoals’ 2nd Grade team is fast working up the competition ladder.
After a slow start the team is putting together a series of bonus point wins. They were dominant in the first half against a willing Tech side. Shoals put on 3 good team tries, with Tom Sims converting two to give them a 19-0 lead at the break. Joe Calcraft was again outstanding in both defence and attack and was rewarded with two crashing tries.
The 2nd half saw Shoals noticeably slow up which allowed Tech to post two tries of their own. Shoals however regrouped late in the match to set Dave Sproule on yet another run to the line. With Sim’s conversion Shoals took the game 26-10.
Shoals 3rd Grade side have now won their 8th game in a row and sit 8 points clear on the competition table.
After a reasonably hard fought first half that saw Shoals go the break leading 19-12. They dominated the 2nd half to win the match 43-12.
All the tried and tested players shared in the 7 tries with the Sproule brothers adding 2 more to their impressive tally and Dave Roebuck, Matt Lane, Tom Sims, Joe Calcraft and Tui Aberhama taking the remainder.