Moorabbin Rams upset minor premiers Melbourne to take the Dewar Shield 30-24 on a wet and windy day in Box Hill. In an entertaining match up played in trying conditions the Rams ran out winners, four tries to two.
The game started slowly as both sides concentrated on ball security in the opening exchanges. Melbourne had most of the field position but were unable to create any real try scoring opportunities. The Rams’ defence was disciplined and withstood a number of early attacking raids.
The pressure started to tell however and the Unicorns were awarded an opportunity to open the scoring after twenty minutes. Two more penalty goals followed and the Unicorns were up 9-0 on the half hour mark. An intercept try to Ioane Perenise and another to Eli Harris late in the half had the Rams leading 12-9 before a fourth penalty goal saw the sides go to the break with the scores level.
Moorabbin had the momentum as the second half kicked off and the Rams’ forwards started to assert their authority. They were down to fourteen early in the second half with number 8 Lilomaiava spending some time in the sin bin for a dangerous tackle. The yellow card did little to help the Unicorns who were unable to post any points in the period of numerical advantage.
Led by Tuia Tuiatua and Matthew Egan, the Rams asserted dominance over the Melbourne pack, setting a platform for the backs to mount a number of attacking raids. Eventually Rams fly-half Davis Tavita made a clean line break to set up Matt Egan and give the Rams a deserved lead. Two penalty goals saw Moorabbin skip to a 23-12 lead and an upset was on the cards.
Melbourne fought back with a try from lock Craig Charters off the back of a lineout and with less than ten minutes to go the minor premiers threw everything they had at Moorabbin. For the second time in two weeks the Rams were trying desperately to cling on to a lead over the late stages. A counter-attack from inside their own half sent winger Malo Young-yen in next to the posts and the resulting conversion stretched the lead to 30-17.
With less than five minutes to go the Melbourne side searched desperately for points. Unicorns winger Neil Walsh went hunting for the ball and his strong run down the right side set up one last attack. Walsh eventually finished off the move but it came too late, and the Rams secured their first Dewar Shield since 2005. Tuia Tuiatua took the Paul Gascoigne Medal for best on ground, with Frank Vu’Aua and Davis Tavita also starring for the Rams.
Images courtesy of Ron Caterson