Brad Inger reviews the Warriors vs Sharks clash. Here’s how the game went.
Tries: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (3), Reece Walsh (55), Euan Aitken (60)
Goals: Reece Walsh (4, 56, 67)
Sinbin: Kane Evans (35, 64), Chanel Harris-Tavita (80)
Tries: Connor Tracey (27), Briton Nikora (37), Will Kennedy (39)
Goals: Braydon Trindall (28, 40)
Player of the Year Points
3 pts – Josh Curran (Warriors)
2 pts – Reece Walsh (Warriors)
1 pt – Will Kennedy (Sharks)
The Warriors came out swinging after a successful captain challenge on the second hit up of the afternoon. With a fresh set, the Warriors surged up the field, thanks largely to Addin Fonua-Blake and Matt Lodge and forced a repeat set after tackling Will Kennedy in the in-goal. A few tackles later, Sean O’Sullivan threw a harbour bridge pass to Dallin Watene-Zelezniak for the first try of the game. The New Zealand side dominated possession, and after a few sets, it appeared that they had scored again when the Sharks dropped a kicked on the goal-line, allowing Viliami Vailea to pounce on the loose ball; however, the bunker deemed that the Warriors had tackled Kennedy in the air and were penalised. The Sharks were awarded another penalty for a high shot, which started a new set inside the New Zealand sides half. They showed intent but could not deliver the final blow on the last tackle. Both sides traded sets for a patch, with the Sharks coming close to scoring but showing a lack of respect for the ball, losing it close to the try line. The Warriors troubled the Sharks defensive once again and were a good bounce away from handing Watene-Zelezniak a double as Reece Walsh pushed a kick out to the corner. Cronulla responded with a strong set and looked to have finally got on the scoreboard when Siosifa Talakai evaded some poor Warriors defence to stroll over under the post. Still, the bunker took the try away after they deemed the Sharks had obstructed Euan Aitken. The game settled into a battle in the middle with both sides trading blows with neither getting the upper hand until the Sharks quickly sniped out of dummy-half, catching the Warriors edge defence napping with Kennedy throwing a simple draw and pass to send Connor Tracey away for a nice 40 metre try to draw the game level. Kane Evans then put the Warriors under enormous pressure when he threw a couple of wayward punches at Will Chambers, which saw the front-rower sent to the bin. A few tackles later, the Warriors gave away another penalty when Josh Curran hit Blayke Brailey late, and the Sharks took little time to use the one-man advantage and sent Briton Nikora charging over the try line. With the first half winding down, Cronulla made scoring look easy-going, with Kennedy breaking away from deep in his own half for the Sharks this try of the day, handing the Sharks a 16-6 lead as both sides entered the sheds.
HALF-TIME: Cronulla Sharks 16 New Zealand Warriors 6
The Sharks started the second half in the same dominant manner they ended the first half but just could not complete their attacking opportunities. The Warriors managed to stem the flow of tries and hold the Sharks off as they waited to have 13 men on the pitch. Once Evans returned, the Warriors started to make some headway and were close to scoring when Walsh attempted to ground his own grubber. After a few more sets, Walsh was involved again when Curran managed to offload to the young fullback at the try line for the first points of the second half. Evans continued his poor afternoon, losing possession for the New Zealand side on the very next set. Chanel Harris-Tavita saved the Warriors with a one on one strip. After a Fonua-Blake offload sent Walsh into open space, the New Zealand side were back on the front foot, and a few tackles later were over once again when Euan Aitken ran on the last and charged through a Chambers tackle to level the scores. Evan was given his marching orders for the second time in this match for a head slam on Chambers, but the Warriors managed to keep hold of the momentum with Walsh and Curran combining in the middle of the field until Curran was stopped with a crusher tackle. Walsh took the penalty handing the Warriors a two-point lead as the game entered the final ten minutes. A penalty against Harris-Tavita for a late hit on the kicker handing the Sharks a penalty on the Warriors try line. They elected to go for the win instead of a match levelling penalty goal but failed to get the goods when Curran dived on the grubber kick. The Warriors started playing one out football in a bid to wind down the clock and booted the ball deep to ensure the Sharks had to run the length of the field to win the match. A deliberate slowing of play penalty against the Warriors for lying on the Sharks in the dying seconds saw Harris-Tavita sent to the bin; with little options, the Sharks attempted a two-point field goal, but it did not have the distance, seeing the Warriors wins back-to-back games for the first time in 2021.
FULL-TIME: New Zealand Warriors 18 Cronulla Sharks 16
to be advised
Match Review Committee
to be advised