The Moruya Sharks went down to the Merimbula-Pambula Bulldogs in a fierce, but even contest on Saturday night.
Played at the “Dog Pound” under lights, the Sharks were the first to sink their teeth into the scoreboard with Moruya centre Raymond Turner finding space to score the first of his two tries for the night.
A massive feature of the early exchanges was one-on-one strips with possession changing hands repeatedly in the early stages.
Play fluctuated end-to-end with both forward packs putting in a massive work-rate with the ball including devastating runs by the Moruya big men.
The Bulldogs were quick to counter with their not-so-big, but gritty Daniel Cronk and hooker Jarrod Cole.
Five minutes after the opening try, the Bulldogs had flipped momentum and pushed up on the Sharks when half-back Corey Schafer crashed through the line to score the Bulldogs’ opening try.
With the extras from the conversion, the Bulldogs led 6-4 early, but the Sharks were quick to bite back with Turner’s second of the night.
The centre was a standout for the Sharks in the first half, diving over the line and planting the ball before the Bulldogs could rally and take him into touch as both his four-pointers came deep in the left corner.
However, a chilly breeze and the difficult angle made it hard for the Sharks to convert their result and both kicks waved off.
The left edge proved the attacking hub for both sides as the Bulldogs soon replied through their left centre Liam Beazley with a blinding run down the flank.
Matching his counterpart, Beazley claimed his double in the second half in a standout display for the Bulldogs, while a follow-up try to Jake Mikula gave the Bulldogs an 18-8 lead.
The final try of the night was scored by Moruya winger Jermaine Connolly, while Dennis Green slotted the conversion to trail 18-14.
With a meager lead, the Bulldogs muscled up in defence and ground out a dour win with the threat from the Sharks ever-present until the final siren on the night.
Earlier in the night the Moruya Sharkettes had been shaken by the Hot Doggies to sit level 18-18 at the break.
However, the Sharkettes doubled their resolve and dominated the second half with a classy attacking style.
The Moruya squad spread the ball to the edges and forced some errors from their hosts to pile on a series of second half-tries and claim the result 36-18.
The reserve grade fixture also put the Merimbula-Pambula Bulldogs on top, battling out a dour 28-20 result over the Sharks in a heated contest.
The Bulldogs eked out a 28-16 lead late in the second half, but a late try to Mervyn Brierley narrowed the gap to 28-20.
Moruya unfortunately had to forfeit the 18s.