The Sharks put a difficult first month of the 2014 season behind them in recording an emphatic 37-6 victory over the New Zealand Warriors.
In a complete performance the Sharks crossed for seven tries on the afternoon, four from winger Nathan Stapleton, with the Warriors kept scoreless until an 80th minute touchdown broke their duck.
As coach Peter Sharp explained, his team managed to do almost exactly what their opponents did to them the previous week.
“We put pressure on them in defense, which was just what Newcastle did to us last week,” Sharp said. “The boys certainly played well today.”
The match also saw the return of half back Jeff Robson, with his combination with halves partner Todd Carney a feature of the Sharks performance.
First points came as a result of some Carney skill when the Sharks five-eighth threw a long cut-out pass, putting Nathan Stapleton into space, with the winger touching down in the north-eastern corner of Remondis Stadium.
Michael Gordon was wide with his conversion attempt but the Sharks had an early 4-0 lead.
On the back of a Warrior error and then after a penalty in their favour the Sharks went on the attack again and once more it ended with a successful raid into their opponents territory, Tinirau Arona pushing through some soft New Zealand defense to score under the posts.
This time the Gordon kick at goal was on target and the Sharks led by 10.
More ill-discipline from the Warriors invited the Sharks back up the field and again they capitalized, a rampaging Sam Tagataese crashing over for his teams’ third try of the afternoon.
Gordon’s conversion attempt hit the left hand upright and bounced over, giving the Sharks a 16-0 lead, an advantage they would take to half time.
The Sharks were in again shortly after the break when another long ball from Carney found Stapleton in space and the winger did the rest, shrugging off a tackle to plant the ball down wide out.
Kicking into a strong southerly wind Gordon narrowly missed with his kick but at 20-0 th ematch was getting away from the Warriors as the Sharks continued to press.
Three more tries came in the final 20 minutes of the match, Blake Ayshford scoring his first for the Sharks from a well-timed Gordon pass, before Stapleton would jump high over his opposite number to reel in a Robson crosskick, before the winger was back in the action again, backing up a Carney intercept then outpacing the defense in scoring his fourth for the game.
The Warriors would score a consolation try in the final minute through winger Manu Vatuvei, but is was too little too late as the Sharks claimed a much needed and morale boosting win.
The Sharks had a whole host of outstanding performers, none better than Robson in his return form injury. The halfback was ably supported by Todd Carney who had a hand in most of the Sharks try scoring plays, while in the forwards Arona was solid, as was Tagataese, with the pair justly rewarded for their efforts with tries.
In the backline Ricky Leutele had perhaps his best game of the season, keeping big Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell quiet while presenting the opposition with plenty of problems with ball in hand.
With the win the Sharks move to two competition points and now head to Brookvale next week to take on the Sea Eagles with renewed confidence.
Nathan Stapleton 3, Tinirau Arona, Sam Tagataese, Blake Ayshford tries, Michael Gordon goals
Shaun Johnson goal
Minute by minute scoring
11 mins – Sharks 4-0 - Stapleton try
16 mins – Sharks 10-0 – Arona try, Gordon goal
25 mins – Sharks 16-0 - Tagataese try, Gordon goal
45 mins – Sharks 20-0 – Stapleton try
52 mins – Sharks 26-0 – Ayshford try, Gordon goal
57 mins – Sharks 30-0 – Stapleton try
65 mins – Sharks 36-0 – Stapleton try, Gordon goal
69 mins – Sharks 37-0 – Carney field goal
79 mins – Sharks 37-6 – Vatuvei try, Johnson goal