The Sharks have notched their first victory over the 2015 season with a gutsy 20-12 win over the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium.
In a match where the Sharks unearthed a pair of potential stars in Jack Bird and Valentine Holmes, they turned in a dominant physical performance to beat a Roosters team rated by many to be amongst the leading contenders for the crown this season.
The two youngsters, Bird just having turned 20 and Holmes still just 19, took it to their more fancied rivals throughout the 80-minutes in what were a couple of classy displays.
Bird emerged from the game a worthy winner of both man of the match awards from host broadcasters 2MMM and Channel 9, while Holmes, switching between fullback and wing for most of the game, wasn’t far behind.
The first 20 minutes of the match was all Sharks, with possession 70-30 in their favour in the early exchanges, scrambling Roosters defense the only thing keeping them at bay.
The Roosters made the first line break but when Michael Gordon, then Gerard Beale and Jack Bird combined to clean it up the first threat was averted and in continuing to pressure their opposition it would be the Sharks to open the scoring.
The try came from a well-worked play with Luke Lewis flipping an inside ball to Bird, with the youngster splitting the line before running 25 metres then over the top of fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to score wide out.
It was the first try in the NRL for Bird in his second game in the top grade.
Gordon would miss the kick taken centimetres in from the eastern touchline but the Sharks had their noses in front at 4-0 after 32 minutes.
The final eight minutes of the half was frantic, with the Roosters attacking, the Sharks repelling them, before Holmes almost broke free on a length of the field dash only to be pulled down 25 metres out as the half time siren sounded in the back ground.
The second half began with the Roosters attacking however after an error gifted the Sharks the ball a Ricky Leutele line break put the Cronulla side on the attack.
Now on the front foot a back line switch saw the ball in Bird’s hands, with the five eighth grubber kicking perfectly for fullback Holmes to score.
Gordon was on target with his conversion attempt and 45 minutes into the contest the Sharks led 10-0.
Now with their tails up the Sharks kept the pressure on and after Holmes was cut down just a metre short it would be a well-weighted cross-field kick from Jeff Robson, plucked out of the air by Lewis to put his team 14-0 in front.
Unfortunately for the Sharks the Gordon kick at goal bounced off the upright and was unsuccessful but the Cronulla side had a nice advantage with under 30 minutes left to go.
The Sharks suffered a blow when Michael Ennis was forced off with a nasty head cut in the 59th minute and when a battered Paul Gallen also limped from the field shortly after it was cause for concern for coach Shane Flanagan.
A Tuivasa Sheck try in the 65th minute, converted by James Maloney made it 14-6 and when Mitch Aubusson dived over in the corner shortly after the Sharks were certainly nervous with eight minutes still to go.
The return of Gallen lifted the Sharks spirits and a Mitchell Pearce error gave them the ball back and it would be that man Bird to put the result beyond doubt, a show and go from close to the line seeing him beat a couple of defneders to plant the ball down under the uprights.
Gordon kicked the simple conversion to make it an eight points lead with time running out and despite conceding the ball off the kickoff the Sharks would hold on for a memorable and well-deserved win.
While Bird and Holmes were the standouts, the Sharks had numerous other outstanding performers on the day, with the forwards winning a clear points battle over their Roosters opponents.
The Sharks now have a short turn around before tackling the Newcastle Knights on Friday night at Remondis Stadium.
Jack Bird 2, Luke Lewis, Valentine Holmes tries, Michael Gordon 2 goals
Mitch Aubusson, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck tries, James Maloney 2 goals.
Crowd – 12,004