Brad Inger reviews the Cronulla Sutherland Shark’s clash with the New Zealand Warriors. Here’s how the match went.
|12th||Try Sione Katoa (Sharks)||Sharks 4-0|
|30th||Try Ronaldo Mulitalo (Sharks)||Sharks 8-0|
|31st||Goal Shaun Johnson (Sharks)||Sharks 10-0|
|32nd||Goal Shaun Johnson (Sharks)||Sharks 12-0|
|36th||Try Jack Murchie (Warriors)||Sharks 12-4|
|37th||Goal Chanel Harris-Tavita (Warriors)||Sharks 12-6|
|51st||Try Adam Pompey (Warriors)||Sharks 12-10|
|52nd||Goal Chanel Harris-Tavita (Warriors)||12 All|
|61st||Goal Chanel Harris-Tavita (Warriors)||Warriors 14-12|
|73rd||Try Toby Rudolph (Sharks)||Sharks 16-14|
|74th||Goal Shaun Johnson (Sharks)||Sharks 18-14|
|78th||Try Ronaldo Mulitalo (Sharks)||Sharks 22-14|
With a top-eight spot hanging in the balance, the final match in round 18 had a playoff feeling about it with both sides showing their attacking potential with some impressive runs. The Warriors let themselves down with some poor discipline, and the Sharks were able to take advantage when Shaun Johnson punched a kick in open space for Sione Katoa to score in the corner in the 12th minute. Both sides were guilty of some poor handling, with several attacking opportunities falling through and it wasn’t until the 30th minute until some more points were scored when Ronaldo Mulitalo dived on a Johnson grubber. The New Zealand side let themselves down with some more poor discipline as they conceded back to back penalties which saw Johnson push the Sharks lead out to 12-0 with an easy penalty goal right in front. The Warriors did manage to have the last laugh of the first half when Jack Murchie, who had been a standout in the opening half, snapped up an offload from his skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to score the Warriors first points of the match. This reduced the Sharks lead to 12-6 as they went into the sheds.
After scoring a try in the first half, Mulitalo had a second-half start to forget, conceding back to back knock-ons. This put the Warriors in excellent field position, but some tremendous goal-line defence from Cronulla saw the Warriors bomb their chance with George Jennings getting tackled into touch on the first tackle. The Sharks surged up the field with repeat six again calls but failed to get across the line with the Warriors showing desperation with their scrambling defence. This desperation transferred to the Warriors attack as they charged up the field on the back of some penalties and Peta Hiku threw an outstanding offload to send Adam Pompey over in the corner to level the scores at 12 all. Another penalty against the Sharks saw the Warriors gain the lead for the first time in the match after Harris-Tavita slotted a 40 metre penalty goal. This put plenty of pressure on the Sharks, and after a near-miss with Katoa knocking on a near-certain try, it was Tony Rudolph who barged over in the final five minutes to nudge Cronulla back in front. The New Zealand side tried to play some “Warriors Football” as they attempted to regain the lead, but it wasn’t to be as a Harris-Tavita chip kick was defused by Katoa who ran 70 metres in the opposite direction. The Sharks kept the momentum rolling, and Mulitalo was over in the corner once again in the final scoring play of the match with the Sharks getting the much-needed win 22-14 and cements their spot in the 2020 playoffs.
My moment of the game was Toby Ruldolphs try. With a tough final two rounds, the Sharks desperately need this win, and after a patchy start to the second-half, it looked like it wasn’t to be. However, the Sharks started to build pressure, and the Warriors could not keep up with their quick play the balls and Rudolph was just too strong in a one on one situation. Rudolph has had a strong 2020 and was rumoured to be joining the Warriors in 2021 before being rewarded for his form with a new deal with the Sharks. You can expect Rudolph to go from strength to strength as he becomes a cornerstone in Cronulla’s pack in the years to come.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks: 1. William Kennedy, 2. Sione Katoa, 3. Josh Dugan, 4. Jesse Ramien, 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo, 6. Connor Tracey, 7. Shaun Johnson, 8. Braden Hamlin-Uele, 9. Blayke Brailey, 10. Aaron Woods, 11. Briton Nikora, 12. Siosifa Talakai, 13. Toby Rudolf, 14. Teig Wilton, 15. Jack Williams, 16. Andrew Fifita, 17. Royce Hunt
New Zealand Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2. Adam Pompey, 3. Hayze Perham, 4. Peta Hiku, 5. George Jennings, 6. Kodi Nikorima, 7. Chanel Harris-Tavita, 8. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, 9. Karl Lawton, 12. Tohu Harris, 10. Isaiah Papali’i, 11. Jack Murchie, 13. Jazz Tevaga, 14. Wayde Egan, 15. Adam Blair, 16. Daniel Alvaro, 17. Lachlan Burr