Derbies between the Moruya Sharks and the Batemans Bay Tigers have meant only one thing in recent times: blowouts.
The Sharks had won the last six matches against the Tigers by a combined score of 308-62, and were looking for their seventh straight on a rainy Saturday afternoon at Ack Weyman Oval.
That streak continued, but not by the same scoreline as previous years, as the Sharks held on for a 30-28 victory to jump into second place on the ladder.
The Tigers started the brighter, with young winger Mitch Hockey opening the scoring with a simple try in the left corner.
Luke Farmer missed the conversion to give the Tigers an early 4-0 lead.
The Sharks would wake up from that point, using dominance in the forward pack to work their way back into the contest.
That work would manifest itself in three first-half tries, including another to competition leader Shaun Staples, his seventh of the season.
For as good as the Sharks were in the opening 40, the Tigers were equally bad. A number of dropped balls and poor decisions stole any fleeting momentum the away side managed to scrounge together in the opening stanza.
The Tigers were fired up coming out of the half time sheds, but it was the Sharks that would continue the job early, with a try to inspirational captain Tim Weyman.
Weyman found himself at first receiver near the line, and took advantage of a big hole on the last play to crash over next to the posts.
The conversion from Finbar McNaughton gave the home side a 20-4 lead.
The Tigers weren’t done with yet, as Tom Bollard got himself a four pointer after a slick backline move. Luke Farmer found Bollard with a little bit of space, and he punched through the line to bring the margin back to 10.
The Sharks regrouped, and the match looked over when a slick backline move led to Te Huia Ngahoata scoring untouched in the corner.
Finbar McNaughton sunk one of the two conversions to give his side a 30-10 lead with less than 20 minutes remaining.
The Tigers hit back though, as Mitch Hockey bulldozed McNaughton in the corner for an impressive winger’s try.
When Michael Tadich darted out of dummy half minutes later, the Tigers were in with a real sniff.
Another try to Mitch Hockey, his third of the day, brought the scoreline back to 30-28, giving the Sharks seven nervous minutes to try and negotiate.
The Sharks thought they had the game sealed in the final stages, when Finbar McNaughton appeared to score in the corner. However, a desperate tackle from Tigers’ fullback Adam McCann kept his team alive.
It wasn’t to be though, as a late error from Peter Lett sealed the deal for the Sharks.
Sharks captain Tim Weyman said it was good to be on the right side of the result.
“They kept coming all day, and we were a little lucky to get away with it in the end,” he said.
“We set the platform early on, but we sort of went away from that. They scored those couple of late tries, but the boys dug deep.”
Weyman praised his young backline, especially young stars Shaun Staples and Finbar McNaughton.
“They bring a lot of enthusiasm,” he said. “They’re young guys, they love being out there and playing footy.
“They put their bodies on the line, and luckily for us, they’re getting tries.”
Tigers captain Luke Farmer said the loss was “disappointing”, but said he’s still confident of a finals appearance.
“To lose two games by two points isn’t good, then again, it’s good to keep up with the teams that are winning,” he said.
“It’s a happy club at the moment. There’s always talk about the past, but we’re looking to the future.”
In the earlier game, the Sharks reserve grade got their first victory of the season with a 26-14 win.