Southern Districts snapped a four-game losing streak to edge Eastern Suburbs in a thrilling Shute Shield clash on Saturday.
The Rebels ran out 35-33 winners at Forshaw Rugby Park after a try in the dying stages to Rowland-Keni Kotobalavu drew Souths level, allowing Christian Kagiassis to nail the sideline conversion to seal victory.
It was the perfect way for Souths to celebrate its inaugural Surf Club Day at Sylvania. The Rebels and Easts played for the Harry Gibbons Cup, with Gibbons one of the founding directors of Wanda Surf Club and the Port Hacking Rugby Club.
Souths community director Paul Ridoutt said Gibbons recognised the common values between rugby clubs and surf lifesaving clubs.
“Both are ingrained in community and both provide a fantastic place for people to come together and unite for a cause,” he said.
“They celebrate the people that live in our great area and work hard to give back.”
In first grade, the visitors shot out to a 14-0 lead before tries to Bayley Kuenzle and Angus Ryan had Souths back level.
Easts again pushed their lead out to 26-14 before Marcus Carbone crashed over from the back of the scrum for Souths. Easts continued to keep Souths at arm’s length with another try putting them 33-21 in front.
Carbone scored his second to narrow the margin before Kotobalavu’s five-pointer levelled the scores, with Kagiassis adding the extras from wide out to spark celebrations among the healthy crowd.
Souths also won second grade 25-21 while third grade played out a 15-all draw. Fourth grade went down 11-10.
There was also a NSW Suburban Rugby Union Meldrum Cup match, with the returning North Cronulla taking on Burraneer for the Harry Gibbons Plate under lights after full-time in first grade.
Tries to Jacob Alchin, Sam English and Dylan Rumsey saw the Sea Lice edge Burraneer 20-19 to stay top of the table with five wins from their opening five fixtures.
Southern Districts’ women’s sevens team were also involved on the day, winning their two matches 40-0 and 26-5 over Eastern Suburbs.
“Lots of the rugby community grew up in the surf clubs and played rugby at Southern Districts. When you look around at our crowd, many of them are still active in the surf clubs today,” Ridoutt said.
“With the resurgence of club rugby, particularly the Shute Shield and the growth of women’s rugby in our own club and beyond, we need to be working with the local community that have supported us since day dot, celebrate as one and continue driving awareness of great grass roots rugby.”