In a brilliant display of attacking football despite slippery and soggy conditions at St Mary’s Leagues Stadium, the Sharks Matthews Cup team has qualified for the Grand Final with a convincing 38-18 victory over the Bulldogs.
The young Sharks jumped out to a 26 to 12 half time advantage and despite a few anxious moments proved far too good for their opponents as they went on to set up a match up with the Parramatta Eels in the competition decider.
The Sharks were on the front foot early when centre Semisi Kioa crashed over wide out, with his try followed up by a equally impressive charge from prop Fine Kula who crossed shortly after.
Luke Metcalf converted the second of the two tries and the Sharks led 10-0.
A mistake from the kickoff however gifted the Bulldogs the football and field position and they were good enough to capitalise, with prop Evander Swann running into a gap from close the Sharks posts.
The try was converted and the Sharks lead had been narrowed to 10-6 after 15 minutes of the match had gone.
From there the under-16 Sharks applied the pressure, with Kula proving too strong in going over for a second, before backrower Jaemon Salmon used good footwork to extend the lead, making it 20-6 with 10 minutes of the first half remaining.
The Bulldogs responded with a clever try from a scrum move, before an outstanding long range effort from the Sharks, Salmon slicing through before finding Bronson Xerri in support, with Metcalf backing up on the inside to slide over adjacent to the uprights.
When Metcalf added the extras it was 26-12 to the Sharks who would go to the break with their tails well and truly up.
In a great start to the second half it was again Salmon and Xerri combining as the centre dashed into open space, with jack Gould this time accepting the final pass to score the Sharks sixth try of the afternoon.
Again Metcalf was on target and the Sharks had a commanding 32-12 lead.
With rain beginning to the fall points then became hard to come by and while the Bulldogs did manage a try with some 14 minutes to go to reduce the margin to 14, the Sharks would well and truly go on with the job.
Final points went to Salmon, who was amongst the Sharks best on the day, with the local De La Salle product slicing through from 10 metres out to complete the scoring.
Metcalf would add a penalty goal as the full time siren was sounding in seeing the Sharks into their first Matthews Cup Grand Final in over a decade.
The Sharks had too many good players to single any out, with every player doing their job on the day.
The 2015 Matts Cup Sharks will look to lift the trophy for the first time since 2001 when they take on the Eels next weekend.
The Eels finished first after the regular season, the Sharks fifth.
The Sharks website will communicate kickoff times and a venue when they become available.
Fine Kula 2, Jaemon Salmon 2, Luke Metcalf, Jack Gould, Semisi Kioa tries, Metcalf 5 goals
John Ryan, Jacob Winterstein, Evander Swann tries, Brandon Wakeman 3 goals
Photo - Semisi Kioa scoring the Sharks first try of the afternoon.
Pic courtesy Steve Montgomery/ourfootyteam.com