Sharks v Manly trial - Match report
In a strong showing in what was the first game for both clubs in 2014, the Sharks have scored six tries to three in beating the Manly Sea Eagles by 24-12 in their trial match at Remondis Stradium.
Essentially a game of two distinctly different halves, where the young and inexperienced players from the two teams fought out the first half and the more established stars played after the break, the Sharks would lead virtually throughout in scoring what was a morale-boosting win less than a month out from the season kickoff.
The Sharks were rewarded for their efforts when youngster Fa’amanu Brown crossed for his teams first points after showing some dazzling footwork near the line.
The two teams battled away for the next 20 minutes until a Daniel Holdsworth cut out pass put Ricky Leutele into space, with the centre scoring in his return to rugby league following almost 12 months on the sidelines with injury.
The young guns then made way for the established stars from both clubs for the second half and after a couple of squandered chances it was the Sharks who extended their advantage.
On the end of backline movement the ball swung out to Eric Grothe, with the winger in his first game at the top level for four years, crashing over some would be tacklers to score with just his second touch of the ball.
Manly got one back through captain Jamie Lyon, then a try to outside back Cheyse Blair leveled the scores at three tries apiece.
From there however the Sharks managed to get on top, Wade Graham scoring off a short ball from Todd Carney, Leutele his second of the night after an exchange of passes out wide, before 18-year-old fullback Valentine Holmes dashed over in the south-eastern corner of the ground.
For Holmes it capped off an outstanding night, while his under 20’s teammate Brown was equally impressive playing against top level opposition.
Of the Sharks more experienced brigade, Carney and Robson did their jobs well in the halves, Graham had some good touches and Sosaia Feki was solid on the wing.
Newcomers Blake Ayshford didn’t disappoint in the centres, while Matt Prior enjoyed his night running onto Carney passes on the edge of the ruck.
All in all it was a performance coach Peter Sharps would have been satisfied with in a match that would have helped blow away a few of the cobwebs.
And in another positive, the Sharks managed to get through the game without any serious injury concerns.
The Sharks now head the Auckland Nines next week, before their final trial outing against the Wests Tigers on February 22.
Leutele 2, Brown, Holmes, Grothe, Graham tries
Lyon, Blair, Rudolph tries