In capping off a remarkable day for the club’s junior rep program, the SG Ball Sharks have scored a 24-16 win over Souths in the Grand Final.
After coming from eighth place after the home and away rounds, the Sharks certainly found some form in the finals series, with their win in the Grand Final the first victory in the NSWRL under-18’s competition in the history of the Cronulla club.
With the win coming on the back of the Matthews Cup victory earlier in the day, the Sharks certainly had plenty to celebrate following the two outstanding triumphs.
The first 10 minutes of the Grand Final went by without much incident but it would be the Sharks to first register points, with a try coming in almost an identical fashion to one from their win against the Panthers the week prior.
Sweeping the ball to the left fullback Will Kennedy dummied, then turned on the speed, slicing through a gap before running 20 metres to score.
Jack Williams wasn’t able to add the extras however the Sharks had their noses in front early at 4-0.
They didn’t have to wait long to add to their advantage, this time the try came down their attacking right when skipper Curtis Scott proved too strong for the cover.
Williams was on target with his second kick of the afternoon and the Sharks now led 10-0.
Things got even better for the Sharks from there, a Billy Magoulias try from close range, followed by a fourth four-pointer, this time scored by centre Keenan Yorston after some enterprising lead-up play and despite the conversions again drifting wide, the Cronulla side led 18-0.
Souths were able to give themselves some hope going into the break when their captain Siosifa Talakai crashed over however the Sharks would take a handy 12-point lead to half time.
Errors and a mounting penalty count against them had the Sharks under plenty of pressure for long periods in the second half and again as was the case in their preliminary final victory over the Panthers, the defense stood firm.
In fact it took 20 minutes before either side could trouble the scorers and it would be the Sharks who would cross with what was potentially the match-sealing try, winger Josh Tuilagi running over a number of defenders to get the ball down adjacent to the posts.
Williams was able to add the extras and the Sharks would certainly have liked their chances at 24-6 in front with a tick over 16 minutes remaining.
Souths however continued to fight and were rewarded for their efforts when lock Cameron Murray went over and it wasn’t quite the right time to start celebrating yet at 24-12 with eight to go.
Things would become even a little more tense in the coaching box when the Rabbitohs crossed for their third try but time would run out on their challenge as the young Sharks claimed a famous victory.
The Sharks win was built on a combination of perseverance and an excellent defensive commitment over the last three weeks of the season then the four finals matches.
The Sharks in fact won their last seven games to claim the Ball title.
Sharks prop Daniel Vasquez was named the official man-of-the-match for his wholehearted efforts in the middle of the field, but he had plenty of willing helpers on the afternoon.
Lock Billy Magoulias showed his class and experience with a polished performance, while Vasquez’ front row partner Brock Illet refused to take a backward step.
As he has been since switching to fullback mid season, Kennedy was a constant threat, with centres Scott and Yorston solid out wide.
As with their Matthews Cup counterparts the Ball Sharks now play for a National Championship next weekend when they take on the Townsville Stingers at Belmore Sports Ground.
Curtis Scott, Will Kennedy, Keenan Yorston, Billy Magoulias Josh Tuilagi tries, Jack Williams 2 goals