Round 3 of Group 16 Rugby League saw the Moruya Sharks venture to Cooma to play the defending premiers. The Sharks were at full strength and up against a big, physical opposition whose game plan was to out muscle the Sharks. However, it was the smaller but more mobile Moruya pack that dominated on the day, allowing their speedy backs to run amok and set up a convincing 7 tries to 2, 36-16 win.
Cooma was aggressive and intimidating from the start but found out early the Sharks would not be beaten that way. Moruya was prepared to move the ball about and found many holes in a brittle Stallion defensive line. Caine Brierley opened the scoring in the 8th minute, finishing off after a fine interchange of passing. Cooma struck back well with a converted try after a clever offload to lead 6-4 after 11 minutes. It was a brief lead though as the Moruya pack started asserting its dominance. This gave the talented backline field position and tries to Pat McMahon, Shaun Staples and a second to Cane Brierley saw the Sharks holding a commanding 24-6 lead at half time.
The second half was a dour affair, as fatigue and injuries slowed both teams down. An early penalty by Jacob Hill was the only scoring in the first half of the second stanza. In the 65th minute Cooma gave their fans some hope with a try to flying winger Zane Weston following some sustained attacking raids, but the Sharks regrouped and a fine try to Hux Ngahoata a few sets later restored their ascendancy. When Jacob Hill scored his almost trademark long distance try from an ensuing set, the Sharks lead 36-10 and the game was done and dusted. A second try on the final siren to Cooma’s Piekor was a fine reward for that player’s outstanding game, but it was Moruya who went home with the chocolates.
Above: Images © A.S Photography - photos by Ashleigh Steinke Photography from the album
From the outset the Moruya pack showed that at full strength, they can match or better any in the Group. In Dylan Johnston, Dean Scott, and Jacob Zutt, they have a formidable back row that run hard and tackle harder. Upfront in the engine room Toby Afflick, Zac Ingram and Tim Weyman refused to take a backward step against their larger and aggressive opposites. Off the bench, Jacob Hill showed his speed and class around the rucks in an impress return from injury. Ewan Pollock made his debut with a very solid all-round game and showed he will be a major acquisition this season with more match fitness under his belt.
Coach Neil Williams was very happy with the way his backs used the field position given by the forwards graft. New recruit Chris Rose lead his team around the park well, showing his experience will be invaluable as he gains more knowledge about his team mates. His combination with Sam Howlett and the outside backs is gaining traction. All the Moruya backs dominated their Cooma opponents in an awesome display. The only downside was a hand injury to evergreen Pat McMahon that will see him likely to miss several weeks. Overall, an impressive team performance.
Moruya Reserves had a hard day at the office, blown off the park by a bigger, well drilled Cooma Stallion side 54-6. Several retirements from last year has seen the squad struggle for numbers in their first three games. However, this squad, which has a lot of good players, is learning the hard way that to be successful, they must start working together as a team, as much in defence as attack.
Next Sunday the local derby against Narooma at home, always a great day of rugby league.