For the Matthews Cup and SG Ball Sharks there were some encouraging signs in their final trial matches when they took on the Newcastle Knights, while the Sharks Academy teams enjoyed solid hit outs in games played against the Bulldogs last Saturday.
The Under-16 Matthews Cup Sharks wound up their pre-season preparations when they hosted the Knights at Remondis Stadium in a match where they may have been edged out 26-24 in the final wash however an outstanding first half provided a pointer to what will hopefully be a successful season ahead.
The young Sharks jumped out to a 16-4 lead over the traditionally strong Newcastle team, with Dylan Smith crossing for two of his teams’ tries in the first period.
As Vinh Tran Sharks Development Manager explained, Newcastle responded after the break, edged in front then held on for a win against a Sharks side who tried hard throughout.
“We had a great first half, with some excellent scrambling cover defence and strong goal line defence,” Tran said. “In the second half errors and a few defensive lapses proved costly but overall it was a solid performance from the Matthews boys.
“Our middles were good, with Fine, Pita and Monty off the bench playing well, Lachie Smith was busy at lock and did well when sent into the unfamiliar position of hooker. Jaeman Salmon also had a few good touches and created a good try for the team.”
As for the under-18 Ball squad, again it was a game of two halves, with the Sharks strong in the opening period, only to see the Knights dominate just after the break and emerge 24-16 winners.
“It was a positive first half by our boys in what was a hard fought game. Neither side was able to post points for the first part 15 minutes with the defence very good from both teams,” Tran said, with the Sharks going to half time ahead 8-6.
The Knights then managed to assert some authority, take a commanding lead, before holding on in the face of a late Sharks challenge.
“Newcastle put us under a lot of pressure and dominated possession, which saw them jump out to a good lead. To the credit of our team they came back at them but in the end time ran out,” Tran added.
“Keenan Yorston, Jaiden Brown and Amo Lualua down our left edge were very good, creating a couple of tries for the team.”
The Sharks junior rep teams now have a weekend off after being scheduled a bye in round one, with their first competition games for 2015 against the Parramatta Eels at New Era Stadium on Saturday, February 28.
As for the Sharks Academy, the SG Ball Development team and Under 15’s Academy Sharks faced the Bulldogs, also on Saturday, in matches played on the new fields at Cronulla High School.
Both teams ran out two-try winners in their matches with the Bulldogs, which according to Tran were encouraging results.
“The 15’s used around 50 players, all local district juniors so while it was difficult for them in terms of their combinations they did very well, while the 17’s, which is an SG Ball Development squad, had a two try win despite a very limited preparation,” he said.
A large crowd attended the Academy matches at Cronulla High, making for an outstanding atmosphere.
The Sharks Academy teams will be in action again this weekend in games against Western Suburbs to be played at Kirkham Oval in Camden.
The 14’s Academy are scheduled to kick off at 10.00am, the 15’s at 11.00am, while the SG Ball Development squad gets underway at midday.