In sloppy conditions as rain fell throughout the match, the SG Ball Sharks have turned in a committed defensive performance in beating the Penrith Panthers 12-0 to qualify for the Grand Final.
The Sharks repelled numerous attacking raids from their opponents and did just enough with the football to cross for two tries as they set up a Grand Final match up with South Sydney next weekend.
With forward Daniel Vasquez, Billy Magoulias and Brock Illet laying the platform in the middle, the backs more than did their job in shutting down the Panthers out wide as they continually frustrated their opponents with stifling defense.
Points were at a premium so when fullback Will Kennedy dummied and sliced through before running 20 metres to score in the 12th minute, while only 6-0 up after the Jack Williams conversion it was a handy lead in the conditions.
For the remainder of the first half both sides had their chances but neither would be able to trouble the scoreboard operator before the break as the teams went to half time with the Sharks a converted try in front.
The rain got heavier and the ball more difficult to handle but sticking to a simple game plan of defending stoutly and kicking Penrith into the corners at the end of their attacking sets, the Sharks refused to concede as time continued to tick and the Panthers became more and more frustrated.
After gaining repeat sets on the Sharks line it seemed only a matter of time until the highly favoured Penrith team would level the scores but that wasn’t to be as momentum shifted back on favour of the young Cronulla side.
After bombing what could have been the match winner just minutes earlier the Sharks wouldn’t be denied only six minutes from time when Jaiden Brown with a show and go from 10 metres out with slide over to put the result beyond doubt.
It was an inspirational win by the under-18 Sharks against a team tipped by many to claim the SG Ball crown in 2015.
The Sharks now move onto the competition decider against Souths next weekend as they attempt to win the first SG Ball trophy in the history of the competition.
They join their Matthews Cup counterparts in the Grand Final in setting up an exciting weekend for the Cronulla junior representative program.
The Sharks website will communicate a venue and kickoff time for the SG Ball and Matthews Cup Grand Finals when they become available.
Will Kennedy, Jaiden Brown tries, Jack Williams 2 goals