Match Day Report......
Devon Sharks 22 - 36 Hammersmith Hills Hoists
Carlisle and Spear double not enough for Sharks!!
After a hit and miss season, the Sharks welcomed Hammersmith Hills Hoists in the quarter finals of the Southern Conference League Play offs at Newton Abbot Rugby Club on Saturday.
The Sharks finishing second in the regional fixtures of the SCL, had already exceded expectations for their first season at this level. All focus was on the current SCL Champions making the long journey from London for this knockout stage.
Hammersmith travelled well, with a full squad and arrived early, looking keen and ready to go. The Sharks knew the game was going to be a tough one especially with key players missing from the squad through holidays and union commitments. It was a much weaker squad than they would have liked.
As kick off arrived, the Sharks had a 16-man squad including Head Coach Ryan Chivers and Club Director, Phil Johnson on the bench.
Both teams struggled to settle, trying to play at pace, and spilling the ball with neither completing sets. The Sharks struggling with the heat and one of the players Tom Osborne, having already played a game of Rugby Union prior to this match, put his body to the limit until after 20-minutes it could not take anymore; a true Gladiator performance! On came Head Coach, Ryan Chivers, heavily strapped up having recently had surgery on his elbow.
The score 0-0 until 25 minutes. A quick play of the ball caught the Sharks off guard, the passes swinging out to the wing, with Hammersmith crossing the whitewash for the first score of the game, conversion successful, 0-6.
Some hard hits by Tom Holliday taking the lead and Tom Worboys, seemed to keep the away team at bay, but not for long; they soon put on the pressure again. Some quick play of the ball, the Sharks again struggling to match the pace. Hammersmith darted under the sticks to score again; conversion successful 0-12.
The Sharks started to settle with some good pressure, the first of the game, it looked like they were going to score their first try. As they broke, it looked like Will Lockerbie was going to score, only for a pass from Wes Keywood not to connect and roll out into touch.
Hammersmith capitalised on this mistake and with good meters gained, they crossed under the sticks again, conversion successful 0-18.
The game looked like it was escaping from the Sharks, but as we have seen many times this season, their heads didn’t go down. Some strong running by Wes Keywood, Pete Bilham and Tom Worboys, put the pressure on the visitor’s defence. Captain Jack Carlisle finishing an impressive set, darting across the line for his first of the day, conversion successful by Wes Keywood, 6-18.
There were a lot of tired bodies out there and with limited subs, changes were made on rare occasions.
Hammersmith were quick to delete this score, and crossed the line again, just before half time, conversion successful 6-24.
At half time, again the Sharks heads never went down, and with club President, Paul Field coming on the pitch with his traditional feast of half-time oranges, they knew they were still in the game.
The Sharks increased the pressure and were completing sets. Some good meters gained by Ryan Chivers, Pete Bilham and Tom Close. The Sharks were hunting near the Hammersmith line. Ben Spear (Sponsored by Hennessey Cocktail Lounge) powered through the Hammersmith defence, leaving them behind, to cross over under the posts for his first try of the game. Conversion missed, 10-24.
The game settled, and Hammersmith took control again.
On the 58th minute, they too showed their strength, breaking through the defence after a quick play of the ball, to score under the posts, conversion successful, 10-30.
Hammersmith continued with the pressure and quickly scored again, conversion successful, 10-36.
Again, the Sharks didn’t give up, there was no way they were bowing out this way. Putting pressure on the Hammersmith defence with Pete Bilham being a thorn in their side, Captain Jack Carlisle crossed the line for his 2nd of the game, conversions successful by Wes Keywood, 16-36.
With the Sharks passing coming together, they scored again soon after the restart. Ben Spear (sponsored by Hennessey Cocktail Lounge), showing his strength, powering through the tired defence of Hammersmith, to cross under the posts, Keywood, adding the conversion, 22-36.
As the game drew close to the end, there was no doubt who had won the game. But the Sharks continued to put pressure on the visitor’s defence, but just could not add anymore points before the final whistle.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Hammersmith for travelling to us and wish them good luck next week against Wests Warriors in a London derby in the semi finals.
Man of the Match: Pete Bilham