Season ends with Tigers loss
Playing superior wet weather football in the second half the Wests Tigers have overcome a half time deficit in beating the Sharks 26-10 at Leichhardt Oval.
Trailing an enthusiastic Sharks side 10-4, the Tigers were clinical in the second 40, taking advantage of too many Cronulla errors in finishing their season on a positive note.
The result capped a tough season both on and off the field for a Sharks side which has played the last few weeks of the season missing between 16-18 NRL caliber players through injury and suspension.
The match began with the Tigers putting first points on the board after some concerted pressure, young halfback Mitchell Moses winning the race to a Robbie Farah grubber kick.
It didn’t take the Sharks long to respond, the Tigers making an error from the kickoff the visitors see the Sharks on the attack, with Jeff Robson finding Holdsworth, before the five eighth put youngster Valentine Homes over in the corner with a long cut out pass.
Gordon narrowly missed the conversion from wide out and after 10 minutes the teams were locked up at four points all.
With the wind whipping across the field and rain falling the match turned into something of an arm wrestle for the next 25 or so minutes and it took some individual brilliance to break the deadlock.
Holdsworth put up an innocuous looking kick on the fifth tackle and chasing through it was Holmes again in the action, out-leaping Tigers fullback Blake Austin then planting the ball down for his second try of the afternoon.
From almost the same spot as his first kick Gordon made no mistake the second time around and the Sharks led 10-4 with only three minutes of the first half remaining.
They would however have one more scoring opportunity when Austin spilt a Robson bomb but when Gordon failed to ground the ball and the try was disallowed the teams would go to half time with the Sharks six in front.
During the opening exchanges of the second half it was all Tigers and their persistence paid off, back rower Bodene Thompson burrowing over from dummy half for his teams second four pointer of the day.
Austin added the extras and for a second time the scores were level.
An opportunist try would then put the Tigers in front, Austin picking up a loose ball with the Sharks on the attack, before out sprinting the cover defense in an 80-metre run to the line.
Not long after the task for the Sharks become even harder, when after a kick charge down again put the Tigers on the offensive and this time it was Curtis Sironen crashing his way over from close range.
Austin kicked his second conversion of the afternoon and the Tigers led 20-10 with 25 minutes of the match remaining.
It appeared the Sharks had worked their way back into the contest when Lichaa won a goal line scramble for the ball after a kick rebound but when the young hooker was ruled off side, denying him his first NRL try, the Tigers lifted again and would go on with the job.
The final blow for the Sharks came not long after, Thompson crossing for his second after winning the race to a Luke Brooks grubber kick. Curtis Sironen took over the goal kicking duties from an injured Austin and added the extra two in making the score 26-10 with a tick over 10 minutes to play.
The Sharks never gave up, with a final goal line stand denying the Tigers further points but it wasn’t to be, the loss seeing the Cronulla side finishing the season on the bottom of the NRL ladder.
If looking for positives the continued development of Holmes should give Sharks fans plenty of hope for the future, while Michael Gordon was once more brilliant at the back in the beaten effort.
Valentine Holmes 2 tries, Michael Gordon 2 goals
Bodene Thompson 2, Blake Austin, Mitchell Moses, Curtis Sironen tries Blake Austin 2, Sironen goals
Crowd – 5,112
Minute by minute scoring
7 mins – Tigers 4-0 – Moses try
10 mins – 4-all - Holmes try
36 mins - Sharks 10-4 – Holmes try, Gordon goal
45 mins – 10-all – Thomspon try, Austin goal
48 mins – Tigers 14-10 – Austin try
55 mins – Tigers 20-10 – Sironen try, Austin goal
67 mins – Tigers 26-10 – Thompson try, Sironen goal