The Sharks have continued their march at the NRL Nines with a gutsy 14-12 victory over the local hopes the New Zealand Warriors.
Against a side rated by many to be short-priced favourites to claim the Nines trophy, the Sharks withstood a late Warriors rally in registering a win which now takes them into the competition semi finals.
The Sharks began the game in a positive fashion and after Blake Ayshford was denied by just inches it was a clever off load from Matt Prior to Chris Heighington that saw the Cronulla side open the scoring.
With Heighington’s try in the bonus point area, followed by Nathan Gardner’s conversion the Sharks would lead 7-0.
In a match where both teams defended desperately for large periods of the contest, it took a cross field kick for the Warriors to open their account, however when Shaun Johnson missed the conversion attempt the Sharks would enjoy a 7-4 lead.
With the flow of possession in their favour the Warriors would cross again before half time but Johnson was again off-target with his kick and the New Zealand team would have a one-point advantage at the break.
The Sharks continued to battle hard and it was through some fancy footwork from Nathan Gardner which saw them retake the lead, the fullback beating a number of defenders to score another bonus point try for his team.
Gardner added the extras to put the Sharks up 14-8 but the game was far from over, with the home team scoring their third four pointer, this time wide out and in the south-western corner of Eden Park.
Johnson’s kicking woes continued as his drop at goal sailed wide, leaving the Sharks two points up with time running out.
A short kickoff saw them regain the football, but again the Sharks defense refused to concede, with a Warriors error as the fulltime siren was sounding ending their Nines campaign and seeing a jubilant Cronulla team move a step further in the competition.
The Sharks now play the Sydney Roosters in a rematch of their final round robin encounter.
That match is scheduled for a 5.50pm kickoff NZ time (3.50pm Sydney time).
Nathan Gardner, Chris Heighington tries, Gardner 2 goals
Sharks Team list v Warriors