A lethargic performance from premiers Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs under 18s last Saturday at Berry Showground saw a confident Berry-Shoalhaven Heads Magpies swoop to a punishing 26-12 win, rearranging the top order of the competition ladder.
With Albion Park-Oak Flats Eagles calmly out in front on 28 points, the runaway win by the Magpies promoted themselves into second place on 23 points with the Bulldogs slipping back into third on 22 points.
Warilla-Lake South Gorillas moved dangerously into fourth spot on 21 points while Kiama Knights hold down the top-five door with 12 points.
With only two rounds of the premiership remaining, the young premiers will have to quickly concentrate on the importance of their position if they are to beat both the Kiama Knights this Sunday at Mollymook Oval starting at 11.45am and the following week against competition leaders Albion Park at Centenary Field on Saturday, August 18, commencing at 1.15pm.
Playing against an enthusiastic opponent, the Dogs were calling for oxygen and appeared rattled on several occasions as the spirited Magpies made many probing raids thanks to the Dogs poor defence in tight situations.
The Dogs squandered possession at vital stages which virtually gave the green light for most of the Magpies try-scoring opportunities that came from the Dogs’ high mistake rate in several areas.
The Maggies opened up the scoring when crack scrum halfback Billy Hayburn scored the first of his three dashing tries after three minutes of play.
Goalkicker Kealan Blattner made good the extras.
The Dogs retaliated 14 minutes later with a block-busting try from big Bulldog rising star front rower Lleyton Roach after the canny Oscar Fitzpatrick took off from dummy-half.
Tarje Whitford had an easy conversion before both sides retired to the sheds at 6-all.
The direction of the second stanza was quickly decided when the Magpies raced in four tries and two goals in 24 minutes.
Hayburn added another two tries to his tally with rake Maxie Lans and prop forward Ollie Parish scoring tries with Blattner claiming the goals in the one-sided encounter.
The Dogs scored a consolation try at the 67th minute and arguably from their best set of the season.
Flashy winger Zane Gallagher finished off the raid out wide after seven players handled, giving Whitford’s goal closing rights at 26-12.
The premiers have to think of the qualities that epitomise a championship team.
The Dogs now have to lift and exert their authority from here on and get their brains back into gear if they are to successfully defend their prestigious Trevor Farmer trophy against four terrific contenders.