Gutsy Sharks downed by Warriors
The late withdrawal of skipper Paul Gallen was a major setback but in the end the match went right down to the wire, with the Sharks beaten 16-12 by the New Zealand Warriors.
Already without Luke Lewis, Wade Graham and a handful of others from their NRL squad, Gallen was forced out on the morning of the match with a severe flu virus, making the task even tougher against a team desperate for the two competition points to stay in the race for a finals berth.
However despite the odds being stacked against them in one of their gutsiest performances of the 2014 season the Sharks battled back from a 16-6 half time deficit to almost steal a win.
Had hooker Pat Polotini been able to find Michael Gordon in support after dashing downfield with just five minutes of the match remaining it could have been a different result for a desperately unlucky Sharks side.
The Warriors were first to score through young centre Ngani Laumape but it was the Sharks who would respond, Tinirau Arona diving on the loose ball after a goal line scramble for the football to level the score at 6-all 15 minutes into the match.
The rest of the first half saw two more Warriors tries, a second to Laumape and a barge over touchdown to veteran winger Manu Vatuvei which sent the home team to the break 16-6 in front.
Sosaia Feki out-jumped his opposite number to pull the Sharks back within four points at 16-12 down following the Gordon conversion and it was anyone’s match with plenty of time left on the clock.
The Sharks would defend grimly, create a couple of opportunities including the Politoni line break in the 75th minute, however it wasn’t to be for a Sharks side that fought hard throughout.
Compounding the Sharks problems were ankle and arm injuries suffered by Andrew Fifita, with the Cronulla side facing another tough road trip next weekend when they travel to Melbourne to face the Storm.
Sosaia Feki, Tinirau Arona tries, Michael Gordon 2 goals.
Ngani Laumape, Manu Vatuvei tries, Chad Townsend 2 goals