Dogged Rocks Keep Finals Hopes Alive

MatchReportShamrocks have kept their slim finals chances alive with a gutsy 13 – 12 win over second placed Bowral at Ocean Park. In front of a small but appreciative crowd, the Rocks bravely prevailed but still trail sixth placed Shoalhaven by six points, and remain ten points out of the top four. Shamrocks have it all to do to make the finals but if they can maintain the sort of spirit and determination they showed today finals football is still a possibility for the 2016 Grand Finalists.

In an entertaining and absorbing contest Bowral scored two tries to one but with normally reliable goal kicker Lachlan Huntington finding the conditions at the coastal venue difficult to master the Blacks fell agonizingly short and will now drop down one place to third on the table. Vikings had a bonus point win over Camden and join Bowral on 41 points but with one extra win than the Blacks, the Blueys now take second spot.

Shamrocks Fly-Half Ryan Schoupp was the hero for the home side kicking two difficult first-half penalty goals, one from fifty out, to give the Rocks a 6 – 0 advantage at the break. In the difficult conditions both kickers missed three shots at goal with Schoupp slotting three from six while Huntington could only manage one from four.

Despite no tries being scored in the first forty, the match had plenty to keep the spectators attention. The Blacks set about playing the same expansive game that they have shown in previous weeks but the Shamrocks forwards led by No.8 Iszak Lunney, produced a dogged defensive effort that has been their trade mark in recent years. Despite scoring twice in the second term Bowral struggled to find the attacking freedom they have enjoyed in recent matches due to the Rocks enthusiasm.

Bowral were forced to play one player short in the first half when giant center Christian Vainerere was binned for using his feet in an unacceptable manner twenty minutes into the match. The Rocks back row of Lunney, Flanker Gareth Thomas, and Locks Damien Clark and Heath Mercer terrorized the Bowral attack never allowing the slick Bowral attacking style to eventuate throughout the match.

Things started positively for the Blacks after the half-time break with wingman Thomas Mooney finding himself on the end of an overlap. The big man raced forty meters down the western touchline to open the Blacks account but with Huntington missing the conversion the Blacks trailed by 6 – 5 with forty four minutes gone.

The Blacks continued with some strong play and looked to be finding their attacking form. However with a string of penalties going the Rocks way and with the tenacious Shamrocks defensive effort continuing the next points came to the Rocks through halfback Rory Davis. The Rocks produced several phases of play in the Blacks quarter before Davis darted through half a gap to post their only try of the match. With Schoupp converting they were out to a 13 – 5 lead at the fifty ninth minute.

Representative winger Henry Yuill came into the match shortly after the Rocks try. Yuill hadn’t started the match due to a minor leg injury and immediately injected himself into the match. Yuill found space in mid field after taking a pin point pass from Huntington and crossed for Bowral beside the posts. Huntington converted and it was very much game on with the Rocks leading 13 – 12 with less than twenty to go.

It was an enthralling final twenty minutes with both sides coming agonizingly close to scoring on several occasions but the Rocks hang on to keep their finals dream alive. The forward contest both in the open and at the set piece was keen with neither side claiming superiority but it was the Rocks commitment in defense that proved to be the deciding factor in the match.      

Bowral were well served by forwards Todd Pearce, Harry Carlon and Tim Lewis with Huntington, Vainerere and winger Tom Mooney busy in the backs.

Gareth Thomas earned top points in the IDRU Player of the Year award just ahead of Lunney who put in a whole hearted eighty minute effort. Locks Damien Clark and Heath Mercer were strong with center Dale Sullivan just taking a points victory over his very much in form Bowral opponents.

Shamrocks 13 (Rory Davis 1 try, Ryan Schoupp 1 goal, 2 penalty goals)

Def Bowral 12 (Thomas Mooney 1 try, Henry Yuill 1 try, Lachlan Huntington 1 goal)

Other Match Results

Avondale 65 Def Campbelltown 15

Vikings 53 Def Camden 18

Kiama 14 Def Tech Waratahs 12

University 41 Def Shoahaven 31

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