ELUSIVE: Steve Brandon was at his best against Kiama on Saturday, using his pace to set up many attacking moves while scoring two triesIllawarra District Rugby UnionShoalhaven 32Kiama 31THE Shoalhaven Ex-Servicemens Ricoh rugby club teams pulled off two victories against long term local rivals, Kiama, but not without some heart stopping moments in the first grade game.On the cold, windswept, torturous but scenic cliff top field, Shoals made heavy work against Kiama on their home ground.Shoals needed to win these games to stay in touch with the competition front runners and they did this, but only just.The South Coast Register Soilco Shoalhaven first grade team was forced to make changes with injuries ruling out some of its regular players.Tom Horton made his return to the top grade after Ben Dennis injured his ankle against Avondale last week, while Mark Brandon reclaimed his wing position.Shoals did not display the same aggression and willingness they did against competition front runners, Avondale, the week before.It is likely that tough encounter flattened the team, as Shoals were sluggish for much of the game.Playing in brilliant spurts on rare occasions got the team home, but it was a touch and go affair.Only a last minute penalty goal got the team in front after trailing for much of the game.Shoals gave away far too many penalties throughout the match. Some they were forced into to halt a rampaging Kiama pack, but others were just simple errors of play.The penalties gave Kiama field position and ball control and made Shoals’ task of winning the match all that harder.The first half provided five tries, three to Kiama and two to Shoals but Kiama had far the better of the period.Kiama attacked Shoals’ line from the start and camped in their quarter for the first five minutes. A pair of penalty goals took them to a six points lead, after just eight minutes of play.Tom Horton won the ball from the restart and set his side on the attack.Shoals gained a penalty and took a shot for goal despite the fluky nature of the wind.The kick fell short but Shoals forced a Kiama error. From the ensuing scrum Steve Brandon flew in from full back, scorched between two players and carried the full back over the line with him. The conversion attempt was waved away.Shoals attacked from the kick off and swept the ball close to Kiama’s line.Dave Coventry initiated this attack with a bruising 40 metre burst, passed the ball to Mark Brandon, got it back shortly thereafter then unloaded to Tom Horton who pinned the ears back but was felled a few metres short.The ever alert Sam Watts spied an opening from the ruck and sliced over for a great try near the posts. Damian House converted and Shoals had gained the lead by 12 points to 6.However Shoals’ lead was short lived.In a matter of moments Kiama had rucked and mauled its way into Shoals’ 22 metre area.A scrum win saw the home side’s back line produce a slick passing movement that ended with their centre strolling through a yawning gap to speed over for a well set up try.The conversion missed.The rest of the half was dominated by Kiama as the team lifted before its home crowd.They gained most of the ball and their backs ran with pace and passed with precision.Shoals were outgunned in this last 15 minutes of the half as Kiama ran in two further unconverted tries and kicked another penalty goal to drive their score to 24 points versus Shoals’ 12.Shoals’ coaches Mike Hayes and Leith Cooper worked hard on their charges at the break.Their wise words seemed to have the desired effect as Shoals marched back into the fray with a more determined effort.It did not take long for Shoals to add a further five-pointer to their tally through a great individual effort by Keiran Brandon, who chased a clearing kick, finally got a good bounce of the ball, toed it through some more and turned on the after burners to outpace the cover to the line.Shoals’ momentum was stalled as Kiama played some brilliant open rugby to go in for another try at the 20 minute mark. The conversion took Kiama to a 31 points to 17 lead.The game could have gone either way from here. Shoals had a mountain to climb and climb it they did with renewed enthusiasm.Despite an ever growing penalty count against them, Shoals continued to attack at every opportunity. Their speed men got into the act and progressively pulled the iron from the fire.First Steve Brandon cut through an impossibly small gap in Kiama’s defence out wide and showed his normal, quite remarkable, pace to race in for a try. The conversion was blown wide but Shoals were on the move.Just a few minutes later Mark Brandon scored one of his more remarkable tries.Brother Steve set it all in motion when he was given the ball about 15 metres from his own line and near the western touch line. He drew the opposition and gave Mark a well-timed pass. He ran around his winger then with 70 metres remaining took off at great speed. He outran the initial cover and surged around the full back. He was noticeably tiring as he neared Kiama’s try line but had enough momentum to flop across it to score a well-earned try.House booted over a great side line conversion which took Shoals to within 2 points of Kiama’s score line at 31 points to 29.There was plenty of time left for either side to set up a win. Shoals played a great deal of this in Kiama’s half but an avalanche of penalties kept them well away from scoring.Each time Shoals looked like getting up a head of steam out went the referee’s arm and back they went. Kiama did not look at all dangerous but Shoals could not convert territory into points.Kiama’s forwards, although noticeably tiring, played with great heart in this final phase and forced the occasional turn over which stalled Shoals’ momentum.Time ticked by and suddenly there were only five minutes left on the clock with Shoals still trailing. They opted for a shot at penalty goal but again the wind took the ball wide.They went close to scoring a try when Steve Brandon broke clear but he was forced into touch.Then with less than a minute remaining Shoals were awarded a penalty shot about 30 metre from the line. House lined it up, the wind freshened and Shoals supporters held their breath. The kick went true and Shoals had hit the lead.Kiama raced up for the restart and a Shoals error gave them possession. They crashed and bashed their way close to Shoals’ line but at a crucial moment a pass went astray and the game finished with Shoals in front by the narrowest margin.The win for Shoals with the bonus point keeps them on course for a semifinal position. It was a narrow escape but a good win nonetheless. Best players for Shoals were Steve Brandon, Tom Horton and Dave Coventry.Shoals return home to Ricoh Rugby Park next Saturday for their second round clash with Vikings.This will also be a special day when Shoals’ hold their inaugural Diggers’ Day when the club honours past and present servicemen.The first grade side will wear a specially designed set of jerseys which will be auctioned after the game. It is hoped a big crowd will come out for the event..This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.