Sharks defy odds to secure impressive win at Milford in fight for survival

Casey Johnson had an impressive game for Shaw Cross.
Casey Johnson had an impressive game for Shaw Cross.

Shaw Cross Sharks produced a gutsy display to they overcame Milford Marlins 27-20 to record a first win sine the beginning of July last Saturday.

Victory saw the Sharks move three points clear of the National Conference League Division One relegation places with with three games left to play and victory over at home to bottom side Blackbrook on Saturday could be enough to preserve their status.

Things looked grim for Shaw Cross ahead of kick off when only 16 men were named on the team sheet.

However, it was the Sharks who opened the scoring inside the first minute when Paul March received the ball on the last tackle and dinked the ball over the Milford line.

Nathan Wright picked the ball up and attempted to throw a pass back inside to Danny Flowers, the Marlins intercepted but a big hit from Flowers and Wright forced the ball loose and Tom Rodgers latched onto it and found March who raced clear to score.

Rodgers then played a key role at the other end and he raced across to tackle the Milford winger into touch and stop a certain try.

Minutes later the visitors added a second try as Casey Johnson offloaded the ball to Jamie Searby who in turn sent it wide to Flowers who flicked the ball brilliantly for Wright to dive over in the corner.

Shaw Cross were then forced into defending their line and held out valiantly for the majority of the half.

Milford finally managed to penetrate the away defence as Matt Brocksom stumbled over in the corner.

At the beginning of the second half Shaw Cross were temporarily down to 12 men as Tom Rodgers was yellow carded for dissent.

Johnson earned the Sharks a penalty as he charged down a kick and raced 70 metres before being brought down.

The referee then found Milford guilty of holding Johnson down and sent the tackler to the sin bin for a professional foul.

The powerful forward opted to kick for goal and stretched the Sharks’ lead to 10 points.

Milford then drew level with two tries in a matter of minutes as Josh Parke broke the line and darted over on the left before the hosts forced their way over in the opposite corner to level.

Shaw Cross regained the lead as Ash Lindsay and fainted to kick before sending Joe Buggle crashing over near the posts.

March then kicked only the second drop goal of his career.

Milford got to within a point of the visitors as the left centre made use of some poor defending to score in behind the posts.

Andrew Tillotson sealed the win as he ghosted between the posts from acting half-back to spark jubilant celebrations from Sharks players and supporters.

Stand-in head coach Andrew Fawkes was delighted with the performance, saying: “Against all odds we came out with the win, the lads dug deep and played with some heart.

“Our backs were against the wall and the lads put their heart and soul into everything.

“We defended our line for several sets and managed to keep them out, it could’ve been an easy loss and we held them up four or five times.

“There are not many teams who will turn Milford over at home so it is a really big win for us.”