It was the perfect beginning for the NYC Sharks and a dream start for incoming coach Dave Howlett when the Sharks under 20’s beat the Gold Coast Titans 50-22 in their opening round match on Monday night.
The Sharks raced to a 40-0 lead at the half time break, due to a combination of outstanding attacking football, coupled with some at times inept Titans defense, and despite leaking four tries in the second stanza went on to score an impressive round one win.
It was however just one game as Howlett explained after the match, with the Bulldogs this weekend to present a formidable challenge despite being beaten in their season-opener by the Broncos.
“It was a good performance first-up, but it’s only one match and it’s the very start of the year,” Howlett told Big League.
“It was pleasing to see the boys lay on some points but there are plenty of areas we need to improve on, especially in defense. It’s very much a work in progress and we’re not getting ahead of ourselves, that’s for sure.”
While nobody is getting carried away with the Titans win, there was plenty to like about the Sharks performance last Monday night, most significantly the displays put on by two players to have spent the off-season training with the NRL squad.
Valentine Holmes and Fa’amanu Brown, the pair having also played in the recent Auckland Nines as well as spending the summer months training alongside the senior NRL group, were brilliant in attack against the Gold Coast.
Holmes crossed for three tries on the night playing both fullback and centre, while Brown notched two four pointers of his own and also had a hand in a couple of others scored by his young Sharks teammates.
Howlett will undoubtedly be looking for more of the same against the Bulldogs but he will also need strong efforts from his big men against what is likely to be a strong and intimidating Bulldogs forward pack.
In the only changes to the Sharks team from last weekend lock Winstone Asotasi and centre Anthony Moraitis, ruled out on Monday night with a severe virus, have been named to come into the side.
The pair will be given the weekend leading up to the game, scheduled for a 4.45pm kickoff at ANZ Stadium on Monday night, to prove their fitness.