By Dave Everlyn
The 2019 Eden Tigers have signalled to all their Group 16 rivals that they are serious title contenders with an impressive 25-12 win over the Moruya Sharks at Eden's George Brown Oval on Sunday. The resurgent Tigers Club had a big day with both reserve grade and ladies teams also recording good wins over quality opposition.
The first grade clash was a hard fought contest highlighted by a hat trick of tries to centre Ian Smith. The game opened with typical fierce forward exchanges. Eden dominated possession early on but were unable to crack the Shark's defence. Strong runs from the evergreen Leigh Hennessy and crowd favourite Tsui Tui tested the visitors defence and after 15 minutes Smith crashed over for his first try.
John Aldridge added the extras and Eden held that 6-0 lead until Moruya scored a great team try under the posts to level the scores. Tigers winger Joel Grewar showed his blistering speed to put Eden back in the lead 12-6 after another Aldridge conversion.
Smith scored his second after Aldridge held up a clever pass from the scrum-base and sent him through the defence before converting to take the Tigers to 18-6. The Tigers appeared to be getting on top of their opposition and after again dominating possession but being thwarted by strong Moruya defence, and a couple of mystifying refereeing decisions Aldridge slotted a field goal to give Eden a handy 19-6 lead.
The Sharks were not finished yet and when Weyman crashed over adjacent to the posts Moruya had clawed back to 19-12 with just minutes remaining. Eden's Elvis Tui, who had another powerhouse game, made a great burst through the Sharks defence and passed to the perfectly positioned Smith to touch down for his third. The Aldridge conversion completed the scoring.
This was a very pleasing result for the Tigers, particularly as it was a strong team effort with every player giving a very committed performance. The Sharks are one of the heavyweight sides in Group 16 and were in second place on the competition ladder coming into this match. Eden have now leapfrogged Moruya in their rise up the ladder and have the look of a serious title contender, a grand effort after being unable to field a team in 2018.
Next weekend's clash with comp leaders Bega Roosters in Bega promises to be one of the games of the season and fans are urged to come and cheer on the mighty Tigers.