SOUTH Coast and Illawarra rugby league fans were given a great insight into the upcoming season when Shellharbour City Sharks and Warilla-Lake South Gorillas battled it out for the Jarrod Morgan Shield at Ron Costello Oval on Sunday.
While the Sharks needed two late tries to save a 16-all draw and thus retain the shield, the day was a great triumph for the home club who officially opened their new facilities, including their clubhouse and grandstands.
Four long-term Sharks supporters and life members Ray Clay, Joe Murphy, Mick Galligan and Peter Blaine were honoured, with the grandstands named in Clay and Murphy's honour. The corporate area was named the Mick Galligan Life Members Stand and the new clubhouse was named after the inspirational Peter Blaine. Blaine who, as long-term Sharks president, was the prime-mover in the renovation of the ground.
Shellharbour mayor Marianne Saliba congratulated the Sharks on the ground improvements, while state Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson had the honour of kicking off before the main game.
The main game itself was a hard-fought affair, with both teams tearing into each other from the start.
The Sharks took 20 minutes to open the scoring, only to see Warilla take the upper hand with two converted tries before the interval to go to half-time 12-6 ahead.
The Gorillas extended the lead to 10 with a try early in the second half and with five minutes to go looked like taking the Morgan Shield back to Warilla.
However, the home side stormed home with two tries in the final five minutes, to force a draw and as holders of the shield retain the silverware.