Shoalhaven Off To a Winning Start

By Ron Wood

Shoalhaven have started season 2022 from right where they left off last year with a 22 – 7 win over a strong Kiama side. Amid some interesting first round match results, which would suggest that we are in for a pretty competitive season, Shoalies scored three tries to one at Kiama Showground.  

Avondale scored a last minute try for a 17 – 14 win over University and Tech Tahs scraped home 17 – 16 against Bowral in another close one at Eridge Park. In a high scorer at Campbelltown, Vikings prevailed 33 to 22 over Quinnies, while Shamrocks opened their account with decisive 33 – 17 result at Camden.

In a frustrating match at Kiama, in which there were forty penalties awarded, the Cows showed that once they can improve their match fitness they will cause plenty of concerns for their opposition throughout the year. The Kiama scrum dominated the Shoalies throughout but it was the Shoalhaven defensive structure and their outstanding play at the breakdown the proved the difference between the sides.

Kiama were confronted with a near impregnable defensive line backed up by scrambling defense from the Shoalies that robbed the Cows of several good try scoring opportunities. Led by Coach Will Miller, No. 8 George Miller and big Lock Michael Raftery, the Shoalies work at the breakdown produced many turnovers and prevented Kiama from being able to maintain any real pressure on the Shoalies line.

Fly half Angus Maddinson took full advantage of his forwards good work with a strong kicking game and servicing the incredible attacking talents of the Brandon Brothers. The Brothers once again stole the show in attack with Kieran playing at Halfback, Steven at the back and Mark on the wing. Mark Brandon contributed 17 points in the win from two tries and 3 goals. 

The first try came after seven minutes when George Miller was pulled down just a meter short after a powerful run from twenty meters out. Center Mathew Stewart crossed from the next ruck and with Mark Brandon goaling the Shoalies led 7 – 0. The rest of the half just didn’t get going as penalties punctuated the match through to halftime with Shoalhaven leading at the break 7 – 0. 

The second half belonged to the penalty count and the Brandon Brothers who once again put on a remarkable attacking display to close the match out. Mark Brandon kicked a penalty goal for the Shoalies before Kiama winger Sione Tuipulotu crossed the stripe from a close in Kiama scrum win. With fullback Mark Bell missing the conversion the Cows had closed the gap to five with the score at 10 – 5 after fifty five minutes. 

Mark Brandon made it 15 – 5, five minutes later when he completed a sweeping backline raid scoring in the left corner. Two minutes later the Brandon brothers combined to do it all for Marks third try. Kieran fielded a long Kiama clearing kick inside his own half before sending a long pass infield to Steven who attacked the oncoming Kiama defensive line creating space on the left for Mark to show some of his brilliant evasive skills. With a couple of swerves and lightning pace Mark raced away to score under the posts, and convert to bring up the final score.  

With penalties again playing a big part in the last twenty minutes of the match Shoalhaven had two in the bin at one stage for dissent while Kiama Center Matori Atunaisa was red carded at the 68th minute for striking. 

Kiama’s scrum was outstanding, dominating what was the best scrum in the comp last season. The Cows played with structure and with some match fitness under their belts, will trouble plenty of sides in this years’ tournament. Flanker Isaako Johns who scored a point in the Player of the Year Award, was very strong in both attack and defense with Halfback Folau Lavemai and Front Rower Simiki Lufe prominent.  

Shoalhaven were down a few players for this one but showed enough to suggest they are very keen to maintain the form that saw them unbeaten last year. Their Back row of the Miller Brothers, Duncan Maddinson and Lock Michael Raftery were their busiest along with Angus Maddinson and the Brandon brothers. Mark Brandon was awarded three points in the Player of the Year Award with Steven Brandon scoring two points. 

Other Match Results

Vikings 33 Def Campbelltown 22

Tech Waratahs 17 Def Bowral 16

Avondale 17 Def University 14

Shamrocks 33 Def Camden 17