Shoals’ scoring spree lights up dull day

IN THE THICK: Half back Sam Watts was in the thick of the action against Bowral on Saturday, setting up many attacking raids and scoring a great solo try.Illawarra District Rugby UnionShoalhaven 60Bowral nilThe Shoalhaven Ex-Servicemens/Ricoh rugby club played at home against the visitors from on top of the mountain, the Bowral Blacks, on a cold and wet day.Shoals played just the one game on the day after Bowral forfeited second grade, and proved far too strong for a willing but overpowered Bowral side.A mixed season had left the South Coast Register/Soilco Shoalhaven first grade in equal fifth on the ladder and needing maximum competition points against a team that had failed to register a win this season.Using dry weather rugby tactics, Shoals’ backs had a field day and ran the Bowral players all over the park.Shoals ran in nine tries to nil to secure the bonus competition point and dramatically improve their for and against tally.Shoals’ forwards controlled the ball for most of the match, enabling half back Sam Watts to play an outstanding game as he repeatedly set up his outside men, darted forward from rucks and mauls to put his team on the offensive, or chip kicked ahead for his flying wingers.Watts capped a great game by scoring a flashing solo try just after the half time break when he scampered from the scrum base and outpaced the defence to race over for a fine try.Not far behind Watts in overall effectiveness was five eighth Tim Devitt who caught and passed the slippery ball with great steadiness and plenty of skill.Shoals opened the game at pace and from the kick off set the scene with precision passing and handling across the team.The forwards tore into the rucks and mauls and secured a scrum just five metres from Bowral’s line at the four-minute mark.Number 8 Steve Harrison broke clear from the back of the scrum and powered over the line carrying a horde of defenders.Next to score was Dave Coventry who played an outstanding game reveling in the close in play.From one burst near the line he carried over a mass of Bowral players to score out wide.It was then the brothers Brandon who came to the fore. Steve and Mark interchanged passes from 30 metres out in compellingly similar moves to launch Mark for two tries, as Shoals raced to a 22 points to nil score line after just 20 minutes of play.Bowral lifted its game and began to gain some possession. The Blacks’ backs showed glimpses of good form as they enjoyed getting quick ball from open play. Their handling was exceptional and they went close to scoring on several occasions.Trent Higgins, Jason Vaughan and Kyle Harrison stood out in this period with some devastating hits on the ball carriers.Despite Shoals’ excellent start, they could not post any further points and went to the break leading by 22 points to nil.Shoals managed to smother Bowral in the second half and denied the visitors possession for long periods of time.Shoals’ fast paced men out wide had a feast of possession and while it might be a stretch to say they scorched the turf on such a soggy ground, their speed did light up the otherwise dim afternoon.Time and again one of the Brandons, Steve, Mark and Keiran, raced around and through their opponents with dazzling footwork and pace.Constantly in the thick of things, either backing the ball carrier up or charging up field from a ruck was breakaway Ross Dunlop, who was in constant motion on the field and backed up his running skills with some crunching tackles.A thumping try at the 55 minute mark was his just reward.Steve Harrison scored yet another try from the scrum base on the 70 minute mark and followed this up with a winger’s try just before the final bell.Harrison made his pile of tries with his no pardon style of crashing through any would-be defenders on the way to the line.This trio of try scoring efforts was matched by Mark Brandon who seemed to bob up whenever an opportunity presented itself. Both played superb games in difficult conditions.Shoals never looked in danger of losing this game and managed to play attractive rugby on a day that was ill suited to doing so.At times the forwards played like backs which is no mean thing to do on the right occasion. Bowral never gave up and made Shoals work hard for their tries. However when your side has less than 30 per cent of possession it is always going to be a long, hard day out.Coach Mike Hayes was pleased with the way Shoals played in the testing conditions and said the hit out will set his side up for the second round.In a match where all did well best players for Shoals were Steve Harrison, Mark Brandon and Sam Watts.The IDRU competition now enters the second round with Shoals travelling to Camden to take on the Rams. Shoals scored a win against this team in the first round and need to keep up this record to finish the season in the top five.The following week sees Shoals travelling away again to compete against the strong Shamrocks club.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.