Woonona Shamrocks have continued to put the pressure on the big boys whilst also cementing their place in this year's finals with a 24-19 win over University of Wollongong in the Illawarra Rugby on Saturday.
Needing a win to keep pace with Shoalhaven and Tech Waratahs at the top of the ladder, the Shamrocks got off to a positive start, racing out to a 19-0 lead before UOW managed to pull back with a try of their own, before Paul Ridgway's men blew the game out slightly to 24-7, before UOW made the contest very exciting however falling just short, with Shamrocks winning in the end.
Ridgway said the result was a massive positive for the team, who now sit third on the ladder with finals just on the horizon.
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"It was a pretty evenly-matched game looking back on it. We dominated the first half but then they came out firing in the second, scoring a lot of points to make the game a little closer than it should have been from our perspective. I was really pleased with how we stuck with our structures that we work so hard on and to beat that University side who are an incredibly good side it makes me happy," he said.
We had a totally re-shuffled backline and the ability for us to adapt our game was pretty impressive.- Paul Ridgway
"We had a number of good performances today and we had a few of our second grade boys backing up for two games which is concerning for the rest of the reason, but the boys did really well to get the result today. We had a totally re-shuffled backline and the ability for us to adapt our game was pretty impressive. Damien Clarke (Shamrocks captain) was great on field today and you could pretty much say that about him every week. Young Ben Stewart also stood-up when it mattered most."
UOW coach Scott Hatch said the game was full of mistakes from both sides.
"We're just lacking that little bit of depth in our leadership at the moment. We've got some really good young lads in our squad that are going to be great in a couple of years, but they just need to develop their rugby IQ a little bit. We had a lot to play for with Paulie Tuala clocking up 100 games for the club today so it's unfortunate we couldn't get the result for him but it was a very proud day for him anyway," Hatch said.
Elsewhere in Illawarra Rugby, Vikings beat Bowral 37-10 on Friday night, whilst on Saturday perhaps the biggest shock of the round was Avondale beating first-placed Shoalhaven 31-12. Cambelltown beat Camden 17-13 and Tech Waratahs beat Kiama on forfeit due to a number of Covid infections in the Kiama side.
The Shamrocks will now prepare for a massive clash at home against first-placed Shoalhaven, who will be looking to get back into the winners circle.
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