It was perhaps more difficult than they may have expected however the Matthews Cup Sharks showed persistence and character in registering a 20-10 victory over the Central Coast to remain undefeated after four rounds of the 2016 competition.
Despite arriving at Shark Park winless after their first three matches, the Central Coast obviously didn’t read the script, giving the young Sharks all that they could handle on a warm Saturday afternoon in the Shire.
The teams traded tries in the first half as they went to the break at 4-all and it would be the visitors to go on top with a converted try midway through the second stanza with their second four-pointer of the match.
With an upset brewing the Sharks went back to the basics of tackling and running hard and were rewarded for their efforts, a Bronson Xerri try, converted by Kai Broadhurst, seeing the teams tied at 10-all with just 11 minutes of the contest remaining.
From there the Sharks knuckled down and began to take control.
First it was Redford Tiatia who would go over, with Broadhurst again adding the extras, before the Sharks sealed the result with a Adam Mortlock try wide out after a strong run and line break from prop Franklin Pele.
After the first four rounds of the 2016 Matthews Cup the defending champion Sharks now have three wins and a draw for seven competition points to sit near the ladder leaders.
Cronulla 20 (Bronson Xerri, Declan Casey, Adam Mortlock, Redford Tiatia tries; Kai Broadhurst 2 goals) def Central Coast 10 (J Smith 2 tries; H Edwards goal)
The final score-line of 48-8 in favour of the SG Ball Sharks over the Central Coast might give the impression of a dominant one-sided victory in their round four match at Shark Park.
The Sharks did in fact run rampant in the second 35-minute period, however for the first half an hour of the match the result was far from a forgone conclusion.
After a fourth minute try to winger Isaac Lumelume put them on top 6-0 it was the Central Coast showing plenty of spirit, bustling the Sharks into error and enjoying the better of the field position.
After a long line break the Central Coast camped in Sharks territory and it was outside back Jeremy Abdulla crashing over to make it 6-4.
The conversion drifted wide however the visiting Centurions certainly had the attention of the heavily-favoured Sharks side.
With half-time approaching a Jackson Ferris try put the Sharks up 12-4 but it was perhaps the next set of six which snuffed out the enthusiastic challenge of the Central Coast team.
Kicking off following the previous try with only 60-seconds left on the clock, the Central Coast let the Sharks march back down field and when winger Chris Tupou accepted a one-handed off-load to dive over in the corner it had gone from an evenly-fought half to a 12-point Sharks lead.
From there it was all the Sharks, six second half tries, opposed to just one score from the Centurions and it was a lop-sided final score line.
Ferris and Lumelume both managed second half tries to go with their first period four-pointers, with strong running centre Semisi Kioa also crossing for a double.
The win leaves the under-18 Sharks well positioned after four games of the 2016 season with three wins and last weekend’s to the Panthers to show for their efforts.
Cronulla 48 (Jackson Ferris 2, Isaac Lumelume 2, Semisi Kioa 2, Chris Tupou, Luke Metcalfe, Kyle Flanagan tries; Flanagan 6 goals) def Central Coast 8 (E Niszcot, J Abdulla tries)