Shoalies Celebrate Anniversary Weekend With Solid Win

MatchReportShoalhaven have added to their 50th Anniversary Celebrations with a strong 33 – 14 win over Campbelltown at Shoalhaven Rugby Park. A strong vocal crowd witnessed a committed Shoalies side run in five entertaining tries in their IDRU Builders Club Premiership Round 9 match on Saturday.  With the electrifying Brandon brothers contributing more than half their side’s points, the win will keep Shoalies in touch with the top four sides in the race to the finals.

The first fifteen minutes of the match was a real arm wrestle with both sides feeling out the opposition as they took their time to settle into their work. Livewire Shoalhaven halfback Sam Watts led the way for his side directing some concentrated play in the Quinnies quarter resulting in the first try of the match to Fullback Steve Brandon. Brandon’s converted try came in the sixteenth minute and marked a turning point in proceedings.

The Quinnies lifted following the opening try and on the back of some powerful running from their forwards dominated field position and possession for an extended period. Campbelltown pounded away at the Shoals line without success in the face of some outstanding defense from the home side. After three penalties in the Shoalies quarter, after all of which the Quinnies went to their dominant scrum, debutant Referee Neil Greaves binned Shoalhaven center Graham Porter for repeated infringements following a general team warning.

Shoalhaven weathered all the Quinnies could throw at them while short-handed eventually clearing their line after an all too common Campbelltown handling error. While still one short, Shoalies put on two scintillating tries with the Brandon brothers displaying some of their lightning speed. The first came when Steve Brandon broke clear twenty meters inside his own half, and sprinted away down the eastern side line. He passed to his brother Mark who took play further into the Quinnies half before passing back to Steve. The Shoalies captain came to within meters of the Campbelltown line where he positioned Flanker Mathew Spresser to complete the try in the corner.

Moments later Mark was in the action again when he swooped on a dropped ball from Campbelltown fifty five meters out showing scintillating speed to career away and score under the posts. The third Brandon brother Keiran was successful in converting Mark’s try with his second goal to take Shoalhaven out by 19 – 0 after thirty two minutes.

With Campbelltown Lock Ben Meafua and centers Elijah Sa and Hector Tapueluelu making inroads into the Shoalies line it seemed inevitable that points would come for the Quinnies. However the Shoalies defense held firm as the Home side went to the break with the healthy19 point lead intact.

Campbelltown came out after the break and started where they left off dominating the first five minutes camped in the Shoalies quarter on the back of a very efficient power game from their forwards. It was center Sa however who caught the Shoalies napping when he took a quick penalty tap and opened his sides scoring with a converted try after six minutes of the half.

Minutes later Steve Brandon once again got the better of the defense showing all his strength and speed bumping off defenders to take play to within meters of the Campbelltown line. Campbelltown won a turnover and attempted to clear their line only to see the kick charged down and the ball fall favorably for Shoalhaven center Graham Porter to score Shoalies fourth Bonus Point try. With the try converted by Keiran Brandon the home side were once again out to a 19 point lead at 26 – 7.

The last fifteen minutes of the match was evenly contested with both sides crossing for a try each as both coaches went to their benches with the pace and intensity of the match taking its toll. Front row forward Keynan Taula barged over from close range for Campbelltown’s second try converted by Fly-Half Gordon Mitchell before Steve Brandon involved himself again in the scoring of Shoalies final try. Brandon burst clear on his own side of halfway finding center Ava Raboitoga in support, who drew the last defenders to send replacement Jeremy Thomas over for the final try.

Defensively there was not a lot between the sides but the Shoalies showed much more ability to score on the back of the extraordinary attacking skills of the Brandon brothers. Despite going down heavily to Avondale last Round, Shoalhaven confirmed today that they should be very much involved in the run down to the Semi – Finals. Half-Back Sam Watts took the points in the Player of the Year award with a very active performance ahead of Steve Brandon,  while forwards Richard Taber and Tom Horton were also impressive.

Elijah Sa along with his center partner Hector Tapueluelu were Campbelltowns best with big Lock Ben Meafua and Prop Alex Sherwin also prominent on the forwards. Campbelltown showed glimpses of solid form but poor handling and some one out play in attack reduced their chances in this match.

Shoalhaven 33 (Steven Brandon 1 try, Mathew Spresser 1 try, Mark Brandon 1 try, Graham Porter 1 try, Jeremy Thomas 1 try, Keiran Brandon 4 goals)

Def Campbelltown 14 (Elijah Sa 1 try, Keynan Taula 1 try, Mitchell Gordon 2 goals)        

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