NRL MATCH REPORT | Sharks v Bulldogs
Led by an inspired performance from former Bulldog Michael Ennis the Sharks have scored a gutsy victory in front of a sold out Belmore Sports Ground crowd.
In a match featuring far too many errors from both teams, the Sharks took their opportunities when it mattered, jumping out to an eight-point lead late in the contest before hanging for the 18-16 win.
With the home crowd vocal in support of their team the Sharks did well in the opening exchanges, a try in the 13th minute opening the scoring.
The try came from a Wade Graham line break, finding Michael Gordon in support with the Sharks fullback racing 40 minutes to touch down.
Gordon converted his own try and the Sharks had jumped out to an early 6-0 lead.
The Bulldogs responded shortly after when Josh Morris crashed over out wide however Josh Hodkinson was off target with his kick at goal and the Sharks maintained a two point lead.
Neither side was able to add to their tally in the remainder of the first half as the teams went to the break with the Sharks up 6-4.
The Sharks defended grimly early in the second 40 minutes and their effort was rewarded when Ennis threw a perfectly weighted pass for Paul Gallen to stretch out and score making it 10-4 to the visitors.
With Gordon off the field Valentine Holmes kicked the simple conversion, giving his team a handy 8-point advantage at 12-4 in front.
Ennis and Holmes were in the game again not long after, the hooker scooting across field then kicking to the corner of the Belmore ground and it was Holmes winning the race, diving on the ball and planting it down to extend the lead.
This time he couldn’t convert but the Sharks were playing some confident football at 16-4 in front.
With encouragement coming from the 19,000 fans the Bulldogs responded, a try to Frank Pritchard and conversion from Hodkinson making it 16-10, setting up an exciting final 14-minutes.
The Sharks gave themselves some breathing space when Holmes was hit late when attempting a field goal and the subsequent penalty goal put them eight in front once again.
Bulldogs hooker Michael Lichaa scored a consolation try but time would run out on their challenge as the Sharks held on for a win which is significant in context of their 2015 finals aspirations.
The victory sees the Sharks move to 24 points and jump the Bulldogs and Warriors and move to sixth on the NRL ladder, equal with the Melbourne Storm.
In a negative to come from the game Luke Lewis was taken off in the second half with a knee injury, with scans tonight to reveal the extent of the damage .
The Sharks now travel to New Zealand to take on the Warriors in a match scheduled for next Saturday afternoon.
Valentine Holmes, Paul Gallen, Michael Gordon tries, Holmes 2, Gordon goals
Michael Lichaa, Josh Morris, Frank Pritchard tries, Josh Hodkinson 2 goals