Shamrocks Stay Alive In Finals Race

MatchReportIn an eventful somewhat bizarre eighty minutes of Rugby at Gerry Cappetta Oval on Saturday, Shamrocks have kept their tenuous semi-final hopes alive with a 38 – 24 win over Avondale. Referee Andrew Strode had his hands full from the outset as the match started in a frantic aggressive manner, culminating in a nasty melee involving just about every player on the field after just three minutes.

Following a heavy tackle by Wombat center Nua Alone on Shamrock skipper Anthony Allport, players from both sides came together mid field in a spiteful exchange which left Allport prone on the ground nursing a facial injury.

Once calm was restored Referee Strode consulted with his experienced assistants John Salisbury and Neill Greaves and the colored cards were produced. Shamrocks Fullback Rhys Peters saw Yellow as he was adjudged to be the third player involved in the melee. Wombat center Alone was Yellow Carded as well for striking. Then star Avondale Fullback Silipa Tuigamala was called out and Red Carded, destined to face a Contrary Conduct - Striking charge at Judiciary which will put him in extreme danger of missing the Final series.

As the player’s nerves settled the football started with the Wombats posting first points through big No. 8 Tuumuliileuao Taiti-Taanoa who had a clear run to the line on the end of a long pass to score in the twelfth minute. Minutes later the Rocks cleaver No.9 Rory Davis deftly put Jesse Roche through a gap close to the Avondale line for the front rower to score the first of his two tries for the day. A conversion from Lock Heath Mercer gave the Rocks the lead 7 – 5 after seventeen minutes.

Both sides settled down to their work with play moving at pace and with heavy exchanges between both packs the bigger Wombat eight started to gain the ascendancy. In a five minute period Avondale put on two tries as they produced their best attacking form.

On the back of trademark strong forward play from the Wombats it fell to winger Blake Spencer to score out wide after Fly-Half Antonio Ale put Lock Amulone Ika away down the left. Halfback Andrew Duggan missed with his second conversion attempt but Avondale were back in front 10 – 7. Three minutes later on the back of more forward dominance, Front-Rower Anthony Amone was pulled down just short of the Rocks line, and after two more phases of play Taanoa crossed for his second try of the match. Ale took over the kicking duties, converting the try as the Wombats took a ten point 17 – 7 lead with thirteen left in the half.

Four minutes from the break Wombat’s Nua Alone was once again called out after some frantic play close to the Avondale line.  Alone was adjudged to have made a high tackle and given his second Yellow Card. Automatically this becomes a Red Card with the center now also required to attend the next Judiciary hearing, and Avondale were now down two players for the remainder of the match.

As half-time beckoned Rocks No.8 Iszak Lunney, broke form a scrum twenty out and went to the blind where he drew the defenders giving the speedy Rory Davis a clear run to the line for Shamrocks second try. Mercer kicked his second conversion to bring the Rocks to within three at the break with Avondale clinging to a 17 – 14 lead.

Two minutes after the break Davis was in again when he ducked under a defender thirty out, and with the depleted Wombats forced to play without a fullback, the speedy halfback had a clear run to the line for his second try. Mercer kept his perfect record in converting the try as the Rocks took the lead 21 – 17.

Despite being two short Avondale continued to produce a strong game on the back of their powerful forward pack against an equally competitive but smaller Shamrocks set. With the forwards once again laying the foundation Wombats center Andre Itula produced some strong attacking play in the Rocks quarter creating a chance for Blake Spencer who crossed for his second at the forty seven minute mark. Ale kicked his second goal and Avondale where back in front once again 24 – 21. Unfortunately Spencer suffered a severe leg injury in scoring the try and took no further part in the match.

Inevitably as the Wombat effort started to wain the Rocks produced the try of the match to take the lead after fifty five minutes. Fullback Peters returned an Avondale kick from his own half beating several tiring defenders finding Rory Davis in support who switched the angle of the attack passing to Jesse Roche on the burst. The front rower careered away to score under the posts and with Mercer again converting the Rocks were back in front 28 – 24.

Shamrocks struggled to take make full use of their number advantage as the remaining Wombats showed plenty of commitment to their task. With the extra physical effort taking its toll on the tiring Wombat forwards the Rocks gained the supremacy and along with a string of penalties took control of the closing stages of the match.

A push over try to Iszak Lunney extended the lead to 33 -24 with six minutes left and it was left to a miraculous try to Allport to complete the scoring in the last minute of play. Allport dropped back to field an Avondale clearing kick from just inside his own half. Finding some space on the right edge, Allport ran down the line kicking over the heads of the converging Wombat defenders. Once again without a fullback in place Allport won the race to the ball touching down in the corner for what must rate as the try of his career.

The Rocks win has kept their finals chances alive but they will have to depend on other results as well as needing to win their remaining matches to make the big games. Anthony Allport took maximum points in the Illawarra Player of the Year award with Rory Davis and Iszak Lunney not far behind. Center Dale Sullivan put in another eye catching performance for the winners with Rhys Peters and forwards Jesse Roche, Heath Mercer and Kurt Davis also prominent throughout.    

Avondale can take heart from their short-handed effort but will now need to find the discipline to go with their undoubted attacking potential if they are to go back to back in this year’s title race. Forwards Anthony Amone, Tuu Taiti-Taanoa, Amulone Ika and Kearin Jack worked themselves to a standstill in this match with Andre Itula and Antonio Ale holding the depleted backline effort together.

Shamrocks 38 (Jesse Roche 2 tries, Rory Davis 2 tries, Iszak Lunney 1 try, Anthony Allport 1 try, Heath Mercer 4 goals)       

Def Avondale 24 (Tuumuliileuao Taiti-Taanoa 2 tries, Blake Spencer 2 tries, Antonio Ale 2 goals)

Other Match Results

Bowral 41 Def Shoalhaven 10

Campbelltown 41 Def Camden 30

Vikings 57 Def Kiama 14

University 33 Def Tech Waratahs 32

You are here: Home Shamrocks Stay Alive In Finals Race