The NYC Sharks have continued their resurgence with a solid 30-24 victory over the St George Illawarra Dragons in the local derby clash at Kogarah Jubilee Oval.
After a slow start to the season the under-20 Sharks have managed to string together three wins, four in their last five starts to move within striking distance of the top eight.
While a match that wouldn’t necessarily have thrilled coach James Shepherd, the fact that his young Sharks team managed to keep battling back when momentum threatened to go in the other direction, was a positive to come from the game.
The Sharks began strongly when Brad Dietz slipped through, found Josh Addo-Carr in support and after the last pass found Levy Sopi in space the visitors would grab the early lead.
Ryan Cummins converted from wide out and the Sharks led 6-0 after just four minutes.
An obstruction call gifted the Dragons field position shortly after and when fullback Matt Dufty found running room, centre Izaac Thompson was the beneficiary, finishing off the move for his teams first points of the afternoon.
The try was converted from a difficult angle, making the score 6-all eight minutes into the match.
It didn’t take the Sharks long to respond and it would be Sopi crossing for his second, the strong running winger going over wide out after running onto a clever Cummins cut out pass.
Again the young Sharks fullback was on target with his conversion and the Sharks led 12-6.
Not long after the Sharks would extend their advantage when Deitz scored a determined try and after the kick at goal was again successful by Cummins the Cronulla side would grab a handy 12-point lead.
In what was developing into a sea-sawing affair the Dragons responded with a try to Roland Kotobalavu and when the winger converted from the touchline there was only six points in it with the Sharks leading 18-12.
That lead would be narrowed even further when Herbert dived over in the opposite corner and with half time approaching the Sharks led by just two, setting up an exciting second 40-minutes.
The second half began with a third try to Sopi, this time in the south-eastern corner and while the conversion sailed wide the Sharks had a handy 26-16 lead.
While the attack from both sides had dominated up to this point in the contest the defenses of both teams muscled up for the next period of the game, with no addition to the score line until the 70th minute when Thompson showed good strength to go over for a second try.
The conversion attempt was waved away but at 26-20 it was suddenly game on.
Showing good resolve the Sharks kept their nerve, managed to move into an attacking field position and a strong charge from Jaden Clarke, resulting in a fifth try to his team on the day, gave them breathing space at 30-20.
The Dragons managed a consolation try late in proceedings however time ran out on their challenge and the Holden Cup Sharks had registered their fifth win of the 2015 season.
The victory, the third in a row for the young Sharks, sees them move to 12 competition points and to within striking distance of the top eight.
The local derby clash also represented the first appearances of Sharks SG Ball players Billy Magoulias and Curtis Scott, with both acquitting themselves well on under 20’s debut.
The next assignment for the NYC Sharks will be a match up with the Sydney Roosters at Remondis Stadium next Sunday afternoon.
Levy Sopi 3, Brad Deitz, Jaden Clarke tries, Ryan Cummins 3 goals
Izaac Thompson 2, Patrick Herbert, Roland Kotobalavu, Jacob Host tries, Patrick Herbert 2 goals
Sharks NYC team list v Dragons
1. Ryan Cummins
2. Levy Sopi
3. Josh Addo-Carr
18. Curtis Scott
5. Semisi Vea
6. Jaden Clarke
7. Bradley Deitz
13. Harrison Muller
9. Jayden Brailey
8. Alec Susino
11. Anthony Moraitis
12. Ashleigh Nisbet
19. Billy Magoulias
4. Jamayne Isaako
15. Tepatasi Fuivava
16. John Ledger
17. Jayden McDonogh