NYC MATCH REPORT | Sharks storm home v Melbourne
Miracles do happen.
Behind 40-18, leaking points at an alarming rate and struggling to keep pace with their opponents, the NYC Sharks have delivered an amazing late comeback to win 48-40 over the Melbourne Storm.
The match was as good as over at half time when Melbourne led 34-6, it still seemed desperate for the Sharks who were behind 22 with 20 to go, before an outstanding late flourish saw them come home with the points.
Coach John Morris would have been left thrilled with the comeback, if slightly concerned his team conceded 40 points, but obviously extremely satisfied to come away with his third victory in as many starts.
The first half was all Storm, with hooker Jake Turpin scoring a soft try early, one which would have had alarm bells ringing in the coaches box.
The Sharks struck back in the ninth minute for their only points of the half when Jayden Brailey dived over in what was the only bright spot for the home team in the opening 40.
From there the first period was one way traffic, five more Storm tries in 20-minutes running the score out to an embarrassing 34-6 at half time, the last four-pointer coming after Melbourne went 100-metres one minute from the break following a Sharks turnover.
After what was more than likely the first spray of Morris’s coaching career the Sharks came out of the sheds showing better intent and just two minutes into the half were rewarded for their efforts when a Jack Williams inside pass put Ryan Cummins into space to score.
The conversion from Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga was successful giving the Sharks at least a glimmer of hope at 34-12 down.
Only three minutes and one set of six later the Sharks were in again, this time through an individual effort from Jayden Walker, the back rower bursting a tackle and running 20-metres to score and when Bessie slotted the conversion from wide out all of a sudden the Sharks at 34-18 it was the Melbourne coach showing some concern.
A penalty on halfway however put the Storm on the front foot and again the Sharks were found wanting when defending their own goal line, the visitors going over again to make it 40-18, seemingly putting to bed any thoughts of a Cronulla comeback.
The Sharks add to their total courtesy of a Josh Tuilagi try in the 62nd minute, converted by Bessie and they had inched closer at 40-24.
Brailey got a second try with 12 to go, then Sione Katoa crossed in the 73rd minute, with Aufaga-Toomaga successful with both kicks at goal and all of a sudden the miracle comeback was well and truly on the cards at 40-36 to the Storm.
Then the sensational come from behind victory became a reality when from the ensuing kickoff Brailey dashed through the middle of the ruck, before finding Williams, with the Sharks number six sprinting the last 20 metres to level the score at 40-all.
From in front Bessie chipped the conversion over and the Sharks had their first lead at 42-40 with time running out.
Cleverly shutting down the game the Sharks trapped the Storm in their own end and with the hooter sounding in the background a last ditch attacking move went awry, Melbourne turning over possession for Katoa to kick through and dive on the ball for his teams eighth and match-sealing try.
Aufaga-Toomaga kicked the final conversion, his eighth from as many attempts on the day and what had seemed impossible with just 20 minutes of the match left, had become a reality.
The Sharks after missing the Manly match due to the state of Brookvale Oval last week are now three-from-three in 2016 with a match next weekend against the Wests Tigers.
Jayden Brailey 2, Sione Katoa2, Jack Williams, Jayden Walker, Josh Tuilagi, Ryan Cummins tries, Jessie Aufaga-Toomaga 8 goals