The Sharks junior representative teams have both won their way through to grand final qualifying matches with victories at Campbelltown Stadium over the weekend.
The Matthews Cup Sharks prevailed in a high scoring affair in winning 56-28 over Western Suburbs, while in the SG Ball the under-18 Cronulla boys toughed out a 29-22 triumph over the minor premiers the Canberra Raiders.
In the Matthews Cup the Sharks were well on top early, three tries seeing them go up 16-0, before a fourth had them 22-0 ahead with barely a quarter of the match having gone.
The Magpies managed to then get on the board to make it 22-6, but the Sharks weren’t finished with their scoring yet in the first period, another four-pointer making it 26-6.
The teams then traded converted tries in the lead up to the break, the Sharks final touchdown coming with the siren sounding in the background as they grab a 32-12 lead at half time.
There were a few anxious moments for the young Sharks as the Magpies bridged the gap to 32-24 with still over 20 minutes of the match remaining, but that’s as close as they would get, four more Cronulla tries sealing an impressive victory and a place in the final four of the Matthews Cup competition.
While it was a total team effort that propelled the young Sharks to a win, centre Semisi Kioa, lock and captain Lachlan Smith and half back Luke Metcalf were rated as amongst the Sharks best on the day.
In the SG Ball it was a much closer affair with the Sharks responding to an early Raiders four-pointer with two tries of their own, through winger Cameron Scott and fullback Will Kennedy as they would take an early 10-4 lead.
Kyle Flanagan got across the stripe to extend his team’s lead to 14-4, before a Raiders try with under 10 minutes of the half remaining narrowed the margin to just four points.
However just when it appeared as though that would be the score at the break a field goal from skipper Curtis Scott sent his team to half time 15-10 up and with the teams having all to play for in the second period.
Neither side was able to assert any early dominance before the Raiders would snatch their first lead of the game with a converted try some 15 minutes into the half.
From there the Sharks lifted, retaking the lead at the 60-minute mark, before another try gave them some breathing space at 25-16 in front with less than seven to go.
The Raiders, the minor premiers after going unbeaten during the nine-round regular season, gave themselves hope with a converted try four minutes from time, however the Sharks would confirm the result with a last minute touchdown to round out the scoring and confirm their place in the grand final qualifying match next weekend.
The Sharks had a number of stand-out performers, however Curtis and Cameron Scott were both outstanding, as was fullback Will Kennedy who has provided plenty of spark to the Cronulla side since being switched to fullback just a matter of weeks ago.
In the Matthews Cup the Sharks will face the Bulldogs for a place in the Grand Final, while the Ball Sharks play the Penrith Panthers.
Those matches are scheduled for 1.30pm (Matthews Cup) and 3.00pm (SG Ball) kick offs at St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday.
The Sharks are the only club with both teams still alive in the respective junior representative competitions.
Semisi Kioa 2, Bronson Xerri 2, Lachlan Smith 2, Julian Spanos, Jack Gould, Kai Broadhurst, Fine Kula tries, Luke Metcalf 8 goals
Cameron Scott 2, Kyle Flanagan, Brock Ilett, Jesse Savage, Will Kennedy tries, Jack Williams 2 goals, Curtis Scott field goal