THE Jamberoo Superoos booked a home semi-final next week after scoring a resounding 32-12 win over Shellharbour Sharks in a must-win game for both sides at Ron Costello Oval on Saturday.
Despite going into the game in second spot, the pressure was on the Superoos, who had several players either rules out or in doubt for the game, with four teams just a point behind them, including the Sharks - with the prospect of going from second to sixth, while a loss to the Sharks would most-likely see their season over.
The visitors had the worst possible start when they lost prop Brendan Smith with an on-going hamstring injury in just the second minute.
But a mistake by Sharks skipper Matt Carroll, who put a clearing kick out on the full, gifted Jamberoo strong field position.
A clever grubber-kick on the final tackle by Jono Dallas gave centre Jake Clarke a saloon passage to open the scoring in the fifth minute.
Kicking goals into the blustery conditions was always going to be difficult and Kurt Field was unable to convert, but when Carroll kicked the restart out on the full, Jamberoo went back on the attack.
Another clever grubber, this time from Field, saw winger Nathan Gallestegui gather and finish beautifully to give his side an 8-nil lead after just eight minutes.
The Sharks then steadied and launched some concerted attack and fullback Jacob Seabrook showed good evasive skills to push off several defenders to cross out wide.
Carroll landed an excellent conversion to close the gap to two at 8-6.
This is where things went from bad to worse for the home side as they struggled to control the ball inside their own half and just four minutes after their try, they conceded a third when Jamberoo prop Jayden Morgan stormed over from close range under the posts.
Just four minutes later, Morgan, a former Shellharbour Shark, had his second when he beat some ordinary defence off an inside ball from Dallas and with Field landing two conversions, it was 20-6 in favour of the Superoos after just 21 minutes.
Both teams steadied, but with half-time looming, the Superoos scored the best try of the game when, after incisive runs from hooker James Asquith and five-eighth Mark Asquith, they spread the ball wide to the left and Daniel Burke slipped a sublime around-the-corner pass to winger Ben Barnard - who finished the job and saw the Jamberoo team go to half-time with a commanding 24-6 lead at the break.
Jamberoo was well aware the Sharks would come out firing after the break but with the breeze at their backs, were confident.
Just 10 minutes after the resumption, they extended their advantage outside three converted tries with a Field penalty Then when Seabrook failed to take a mid-field bomb, the ever-present Luke Asquith ran form dummy-half down the blindside to crash over.
Field landed an excellent conversion to push the score out to 32-6.
The Sharks had the final say with just over 10 minutes remaining when centre Matt Forsyth found the Jamberoo short-handed out wide to dive over and Carroll's superb conversion rounded out the scoring.
In a commanding performance, Morgan, Kieran Pearce and Luke Asquith were outstanding up front, as was James Asquith until injured, while Dallas and Field orchestrated things beautifully out wide.
Matt Forsyth, Dane Sablowski, Kade Sampson and Liam Scott never stopped trying to lift the Sharks.
Jamberoo will now host the Warilla-Lake South Gorillas at home next weekend in the major qualifying final, while the Sharks, who needed results to go their way on Sunday, will start preparing for next season.
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