display of attacking Rugby by Shoalhaven brothers Steven and Mark Brandon has
laid the foundation for the Shoalies big 65 – 33 win over Shamrocks in Nowra.
Mark Brandon crossed for two tries himself with both he and Steve playing
prominent rolls in five more of their sides nine try haul. The win lifts
Shoalhaven into third place on the table with two rounds remaining in the Peter
Woods Challenge Shield Tournament.
Avondale looks to have
secured the Shield with a bonus point win over Vikings, while Campbelltown
maintained second place with a 21 – 5 victory over Kiama. The results mean that
the Wombats now have a six point lead over the Harlequinns going into next week’s
clash between the sides in Campbelltown. The match next Saturday virtually
takes on a Grand Final look for this disrupted season as a win to Avondale will
secure them the Shield in its inaugural year.
In a highly entertaining but
none the less physical match at Nowra, Shamrocks registered first points inside
the first minute of the time. After kicking off the Rocks injury depleted
forward pack won possession at the very first breakdown. Center Jake Psaras took
play left to the short side and found fullback Ben Ridgeway in support who
crossed for the opening try in the corner.
Minutes later in a sign of
things to come Shoalies fullback Steven Brandon made a strong break on halfway.
He scooted deep into the Rocks half before finding Fly-Half Harry Hibbs in
support who posted the Shoalies first of nine tries. After both conversion
kicks failed Hibbs added a penalty goal four minutes later for Shoalies to lead
for the first time at 8 – 5 with eleven minutes gone.
The Rocks scored next after
their forwards put on several strong phases in the Shoalies quarter before big
front rower Lachlan King touched down and with a conversion from Ridgeway, Shamrocks
took the lead 12 – 8.
The lead was short lived
when Shoalhaven Flanker Tom Hill pulled off a perfect charge-down meters from
the Rocks line. Winger Blake Gurney pounced on the loose ball to score. With
the try converted by Hibbs, Shoalies were back in front 15 – 12.
Shamrocks forwards drove
play deep into Shoalies territory putting plenty of pressure on their line and
drawing several penalties. After a scrum drive close to the hosts line Referee
John Maughan responded to another Shoaly indiscretion and awarded the Rocks a
Penalty Try which gave the Rocks the lead for the last time in the match at 19 –
Shoalies lifted at this
point and the final minutes of the half belonged to them with their wingers
crossing for a try each. Both came from a loose ball, the first to Mark Brandon
who swooped on a Shamrocks lost ball just in his own half and outsprinted his
opponents in a fifty plus meter run to the line. Left wingman Blake Gurney was
then on the end of some good backline play to break clear on the left. His
inside pass was knocked down by a Rocks defender but bounced fortuitously back
to him and he raced away to score. Hibbs converted both tries and Shoalhaven
went to the break 29 – 19 in front.
The second half belonged to
the brilliant Brandon Brothers who were instrumental in four of the five Shoaly
tries. A minute after an early penalty goal by Hibbs, Mark Brandon created a
chance for center David Priestman. Brandon showed blistering speed on the right
after getting outside the defense before passing infield to Priestman who
scored Shoalies fifth try for a 39 – 19 lead.
Shamrocks were not done yet
however with winger Mitchell Adams crossing for two well-constructed backline
tries with fullback Ben Ridgeway prominent to give the Rocks some hope of their
chances at 33 – 39 with still thirty minutes left.
But the day belonged to the Home
side and the mercurial Brandon brothers. Four tries came to the Shoalies in the
final twenty minutes as the pace of the match took its toll on both sides. With
Shamrocks experiencing a mounting injury toll over the last few weeks
Shoalhavens bench had a bigger impact in this match as the personnel changes
came late after a frantic high paced game.
Blake Gurney scored two more
tries, the second off a mid-field Steve Brandon break with Gurney showing all
his finishing skills to position himself perfectly for the try. Steve Brandon
showed all his strength again with another mid-field break, this time feeding
replacement Half-Back Connor Trudgen for the try under the posts. The last try
was vintage Mark Brandon. The flyer got outside his defenders again racing away
from over fifty out only to be rounded up and held with thirty to go, but
somehow broke free of the defender to score under the posts.
With thirteen tries scored in
the match one would think that defense and effort was not too apparent on the
day, but that was not the case with both sets of forwards ripping in to their
work throughout. In the end The Brandon Brothers freakish attacking skills were
a defining factor in the game but there were plenty of eye catching
performances from players of both sides.
For Shamrocks font rowers
Jesse Roche and Lachlan King lead strongly up front with their back rowers Jordan
Stalker, Xavier McDevitt, Gareth Thomas and No.8 Kalem Smith again working hard.
Half-Back Corey Aylett once again provided excellent ball to his outside
players with Thomas McDevitt and Ben Ridgeway standout performers.
Whilst the Brandon Brothers
are a significant factor in the Shoalhaven success, it would be wrong to
underestimate the ability of the squad as a whole. As shown in this match they
have a strong committed well disciplined approach to their football. Strong
performers today up front were Dylan Moon and Tom Avey with backrowers Michael
Raftery, Tom Hill and Michael Dunn getting through plenty of the heavy work.
The Shoalies have plenty of strike power in their entertaining backline with
Harry Hibbs, Aaron McDonnell and David Priestman also making strong contributions.
As well as the Brandon brothers efforts in this match special mention should be
made of young Wingman Blake Gurney who continues to show he has a bright future
ahead of him.
Shoalhaven 65 (Blake Gurney
4 tries, Mark Brandon 2 tries, David Priestman 1 try, Connor Trudgen 1 try,
Harry Hibbs 1 try, 7 goals, 2 penalty goals)
Def Shamrocks 33 (Mitchell
Adams 2 tries, Lachlan King 1 try, Ben Ridgeway 1 try, 3 goals, 1 Penalty Try)
Other Match Results
Campbelltown 21 Def Kiama 5
Tech Waratahs 40 Def Camden
Avondale 22 Def Vikings 0