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Sharks back on top

Roddy Shield winners in 2019, the Commercial Sharks.

Commercial cemented its status as Tumut’s premier pub football team by hammering Oriental 31-12 last Friday night to win the 2019 Roddy Shield.

In front of another healthy crowd at Twickenham, the Sharks notched their second title in the five-year run since the Pub 9s competition was formed.

Commercial had previously claimed competition bragging rights in 2016 – beating Oriental in the final that year as well – while they finished runners up last year, and have twice won the Madigan-Bristow Plate.

On Friday night they conceded the first try of the match as Oriental imposed its will in the opening exchanges, but the Sharks then found their feet, scoring 31 unanswered points in a scoring blitz showcasing speed and skill.

Captain Jon Carmody praised his team for weathering the early storm of the Colts.

“Ori made it tough for us in the middle, but once we got it out wide things started to happen,” Carmody said. “You can’t beat speed.”

The Sharks have plenty of of that, with player of the tournament Josh Webb causing damage alongside Brayden Draber, who also had a fantastic season.

But it wasn’t all about the speedsters, with Carmody, the wholehearted Jeremiah Freeman and skilful Isaac Toppin setting up the win.

In beating Ori, Commercial avenged their only defeat of the season, a narrow 30-27 loss the previous week, during which they gave up a 16 point lead in the dying stages.

Both sides showed some nerves early on Friday night, leading to a number of fumbles, before Ori found numbers out wide through Bailey O’Neil – better known for scoring goals than tries – to open up a 4-0 lead.

Commercial quickly had a reply as they showcased their expansive style, leading to Draber’s first try.

Both teams defended well through much of the first half, before Commercial struck twice before the break.

Firstly it was Jacob Toppin jinking over, after some Draber wizardry, and then Josh Webb scored for an 18-4 halftime advantage.

 Draber was over once more after Jacob Toppin and Josh Webb did the lead up, and then he collected a third – another golden pointer, to give the Sharks an unassailable 31-4 advantage with six minutes to go.

Oriental was facing a big mountain to climb – something they’d managed the previous week when they stormed home from a big deficit.

While they finished strongly again this week, they couldn’t bridge the gap.

Jack Hassett, arguably his team’s best player on the night, charged over for a deserved try, before Warren Weir dived over from close range to add some respectability to the score.

Alongside Hassett, Ori were best served by Nick Webb and Ben Weir.

The final marked the conclusion of another successful Pub 9s tournament, where crowds once more flocked to Twickenham each Friday night in numbers that would embarrass most Group 9 fixtures.

The expansion to include Tumbarumba and Batlow teams added some further excitement and they’re expected to only improve next year with a season under their belt.

Proceeds from the tournament will be poured back into rugby league through various projects, while organisers the Tumut Rugby league Old Boys also support community causes such as Gadara School.