A DOMINANT first half performance underpinned the Cooma Stallions impressive victory over defending group 16 premiers the Moruya Sharks at the Cooma Showground on Sunday.
The Stallions upset the competition leaders 30-24, after overnight rain threatened to postpone the match.
Thankfully for the home side the skies cleared and the Stallions put on quite the spectacle for the crowd.
Cooma commenced the game knowing another loss would make it extremely difficult to push for a semi final position and they reacted accordingly.
Centre Matt Salvestro's brilliant running game returned and with his first touched pushed off his opponent for a scorching 50 metre run. Two plays later, Joel Smith put Brett Hodak over for the first try of the match, which was subsequently converted by Murray Jackson. Cooma took the early lead, 6-0.
The Sharks equalised six minutes later when prop Tim Weyman showed his stength to score a converted try, leaving the scores locked up at 6-6.
Moruya continued to attack but solid goal line defence from Salvestro and Jesse Jackson saved another Moruya try.
In the 14th minute, half Paul Perkins showed great determination to cross for another converted try, taking the score to 12-6 in favour of Cooma.
Moruya again hit back, with a try to their fullback leaving the score 12-10.
Following a strong Murray Jackson run, hooker Joel Smith weaved his way over for an unconverted try and a 16-10 lead.
In the 29th minute a great Jake Schofield break, saw Salvestro backing up who in turn unloaded to coach Steve Dunn who beat the fullback to score a tremendous team try. The conversion missed taking Cooma to a 20-10 lead.
Five minutes before halftime, Smith completely mesmerised the defence from dummy half and converted his own try. The sides went into the break at 26-14 in Cooma's favour.
A mistake by Moruya early in the second half saw Perkins put in a short kick behind the defence and the ever present Salvestro pounced for his second try to extend the lead to 30-14.
The scoring dried up for the next 30 minutes as play went from one of the field to the other, with unrelenting defence from both sides.
With only six minutes left on the clock, Moruya scored twice in four minutes to leave Cooma just ahead 30-24.
The Stallions' defence held firm, with Moruya unable to score again, leaving the young Stallions side deserved winners.
In what was a determined team effort, Cooma were best served by Matt Salvestro, who terrorised his opponents every time he touched the ball.
Joel Smith showing his increased maturity was tireless in both attack and defence. The even younger Richard Bensley displayed the same qualities. Coach Steve Dunn and return of workhorse Todd Williams provided the experience, the win was a credit to the 17 players.
The Stallions now take on arch rivals Bega next weekend and if they can pull off another victory they will be back in semi-final contention.