New Zealand Warriors 20
Tries: Wright, Vatuvei, Kata, Johnson
Goals: Jonson 2/5
Field Goals: 0
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 16
Tries: Lewis, Fifita
Goals: Holmes 4/4
Field Goals: 0
The Sharks fans were given an early reason to be excited today as their trophy cabinet was finally opened for their competition-winning Harold Matthews and SG Ball teams. The first grade side were hoping to continue this winning streak tonight on their home turf, Remondis Stadium. A strong opening ten minutes from both sides saw great defence from the Sharks holding out the Warriors from the try line in the 11th minute. Five minutes later, Warriors winger and ex-Shark, Jonathon Wright finally crosses over on the right hand side after a nice cut out pass. The try was unconverted giving the Sharks an opening lead of 4-nil.
In the 22nd minute, a smart little grubber from Michael Ennis is picked up by quick thinking Luke Lewis who then scores under the posts to level up the scores. Conversion successful by Valentine Holmes to edge the Sharks out 6-4. Not long after the Sharks look as though they are in again after a cross field kick is caught by Mitch Brown, but he is held up over the line by Warriors’ Wright. The Warriors take advantage of gaining the ball back and Manu Vatuvei scores in the left hand corner in the 30th minute but the try is unconverted. The Warriors now lead 8-4 despite the Sharks being the more dominant side so far in the game.
Three minutes later, Sharks young gun Jack Bird explodes down field and passes to Ben Barba who takes off to what looks like a sure try until Warriors’ determined defence takes him over the sideline. With one minute left of the half, a penalty is given to the Sharks for a play the ball infringement. Holmes takes a shot at goal and levels the score to 8-all going into half time.
The second half starts off with another denied try to the Warriors followed by another play the ball infringement penalty to the Sharks with Holmes successfully taking the two, edging the Sharks in front 10-8. Not long after, Anthony Tupou is taken from the field after a collision with Konrad Hurrell’s knee, suffering a nasty facial injury which turns out to be a broken jaw. Hurrell is arguably placed on report for what appeared to be an accident.
In the 62nd minute, Barba is penalised for pulling a leg in the play the ball, giving the Warriors a successful shot at goal, leveling the score to 10-all. Soon after, Warriors’ centre Solomone Kata comes close to scoring in the corner but Bird makes contact with his arm and the ball is dislodged in the tackle.
The final ten minutes of the game forced both sides to become desperate to break the level score, leading to messy ball work and silly mistakes. The 72nd minute saw fabulous work from Shaun Johnson as he runs the ball on the fifth tackle, makes a break and chips over the top finding Kata who collects the ball and scores in the corner. Try unconverted, Warriors lead 14-10.
Three minutes later, tired Warriors defence falls off numerous tackles allowing Andrew Fifita to score an easy try, with Holmes converting 16-14. With the Sharks thinking they had the game wrapped up, Ryan Hoffman charges down a kick and gathers up the ball before passing it onto to Johnson who weaves through Sharks defence and scores in the 79th minute. Conversion successful and the Warriors take out the game with a magical finish 20-16.