The Cronulla Sharks have returned to winning ways with a 10-4 victory over the Sydney Roosters.
The tough, gritty performance from the Sharks side capped off a successful week for the club – both on and off the playing field.
The match got off to a fiery start, with opposing props Andrew Fifita and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves setting the tone for what was a hard-fought first 40 minutes.
A run of penalties and Roosters errors had the Sharks deep on the attack early, but unable to turn field position into points, the visitors found a way to repel Cronulla’s best efforts before finding a way to post their own.
The Roosters were struggling to keep a hold of possession with simple errors and ill-discipline keeping Trent Robinson’s men under pressure.
The visitors looked ominous when they were able to hold onto the ball, and the Sharks came again when Ennis’ touch finder had the side in a good attacking area.
Sosaia Feki found himself into space and looked likely to trouble Roger Tuivasa-Sheck at the back.
When Feki was felled on the left edge, the Sharks had looked to move the ball wide to the right; but James Maloney swooped upon Bird’s deflected grubber to stop the Cronulla attack dead in its tracks.
Maloney made no mistake in picking up the Steeden, and he outran Jeff Robson and Michael Gordon for near on 90 metres to open the scoring.
The Roosters five-eighth failed to add the extras though, and the score remained at 4-0 to the tri-colours.
The Sharks had looked to hit back through Valentine Holmes, only for the 19-year-old’s try to be disallowed upon review with Wade Graham said to have obstructed the Roosters defence.
In a first half that saw 20 errors between the two sides, the Roosters took a slender 4-0 lead into the break.
Upon the resumption, the visitors came out full of running and broke the Cronulla defensive line through Kane Evans. Evans looked likely to score, if not for a try-saving tackle from Sharks centre Gerard Beale.
Buoyed by the Kiwi’s last-ditch efforts, the Sharks marched down the field and found themselves in good attacking territory.
Asking plenty of questions of the Roosters’ goal-line defence, Mick Ennis’ wayward pass bounced kindly for Jeff Robson who offloaded to put Luke Lewis into score.
The try was Lewis’ fifth of the season – and second in as many matches against the Roosters in 2015 – and the 100th of his NRL career.
With the momentum well and truly with the home team, Chris Heighington went close to scoring the side’s second try; but again the video referee denied the Sharks points.
Not shying from the tough task, the Sharks continued to press on in the search of more points. Robson’s cross-field bomb was spilled by Shaun Kenny-Dowall, and in the resulting set of six the Sharks earned a penalty and opted to extend the their lead to four.
While the Roosters continued to make errors inside their own end, the relentless Sharks maintained the pressure to again be awarded a penalty – and again, successfully kicked for goal.
With the lead at 10-4, the hosts defused a late Roosters threat to hang on for an important win in front of a 14,235-strong Remondis Stadium crowd.
CRONULLA SHARKS - 10 [TRIES: Lewis – GOALS: Gordon (3/3)]
Def. SYDNEY ROOSTERS - 4 [TRIES: Maloney – GOALS: Maloney (0/1)]