Fielding a team decimated by injury and other circumstances affecting the club it was a mountain too high to climb for the Sharks who have gone down by 22-12 to the Canberra Raiders.
The Sharks went to half time with a 6-0 lead but they were unable to go on with the job in the second period, with young Canberra player Anthony Milford having a hand in all four of the Raider tries.
Without much possession the Sharks were forced to do plenty of defensive work in the first half and a combination of great commitment and some sloppy Canberra attacking play saw the teams locked at 0-0 some 35 minutes into the match.
The Sharks eventually broke the deadlock and the opening try came when a well-timed pass from Fa’amanu Brown put Blake Ayshford into space with the centre-come-back rower’s pass for his support coming off a Canberra defender before Sosaia Feki scooped the ball up to score out wide.
Michael Gordon converted and the Sharks would go to half time ahead 6-0.
The second half however began poorly for the Cronulla side, two Raider tries in the first 10 minutes, the first by back rower Matt McIllwrick from a Milford kick, while the second to Jarrod Croker was again laid on by the young five eighth with a pinpoint cut out pass.
Croker managed to kick one of the two goals and the Sharks trailed 10-6 with a half an hour of the match to go.
Only minutes after squandering a scoring chance of their own the task got a little more difficult when Croker made a break down the western sideline before passing to Milford to score, with Canberra up 16-6 with 20 minutes left on the clock.
The Sharks then put themselves in the picture with still plenty of time left when Michael Lichaa found Tim Robinson with a perfect flat pass, the front rower diving over for his first NRL try of the season and when Gordon added the extras it was 16-12 with the momentum well and truly favouring the Cronulla team.
While they tried hard to bridge gap it wasn’t to be for the Sharks as another Raiders score put the result almost beyond doubt and again it was Milford, the Raiders number six winning the race to a grubber kick to score adjacent to the uprights.
Croker kicked the goal to make it 22-12 with the Sharks unable to fight their way back into the contest over the closing 10 minutes as the Raiders took the points.
In looking for a positive the Sharks were able to expose two more youngsters to NRL football, with Scott Sorensen and Sione Masima making their NRL debuts. The two local juniors, who have come through the Sharks junior rep system, acquitted themselves well in their first NRL outing. The pair were the club’s eighth and ninth players to debut in the NRL this season.
Player’s player on the day went to Ayshford for his efforts in the unaccustomed position of back row, while Robinson was a worthy winner of the coaches award.
The Sharks now face a tough road trip when they travel to Townsville to take on the Cowboys next Monday night.
SHARKS 12 : Sosaia Feki, Tim Robinson tries, Michael Gordon 2 goals lost to
: Anthony Milford 2, Matt McIllwrick, Jarrod Croker, tries, Jarrod Croker 3 goals
Minute by minute scoring
36 mins – Sharks 6-0 Feki try, Gordon goal half time
46 mins – 6-all – McIllwirck try, Croker goal
49 mins – Raiders 10-6 – Croker try
58 mins – Raiders 16-6 – Milford try, Croker goal
66 mins – Raiders 16-12 – Robinson try, Gordon goal
70 mins – Raiders 22-12 – Milford try, Croker goal