The Cronulla Sharks have recorded a comprehensive 40-16 victory over the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium on Sunday.
On what was a mild afternoon in the nation’s capital, the Sharks took the lead early though fullback Ben Barba who crossed the line off a Michael Ennis grubber.
James Maloney converted the try.
The try took the fullback’s try tally in 2016 to five as he continues his rich run of form this season.
Both sides traded blows in during the middle period of the first half, however were unable to convert.
The break through came in the 19th minute from the Cronulla side as Jack Bird proved too strong for his opponent Jarrod Croker, going over in the right corner.
Maloney again converted the try.
Buoyed by a vocal crowd, the home side pressed the Sharks line for the remainder of the first half, going close through their hooker Josh Hodgson.
The in-form rake had his attempt sent to the video referee however the on-field ruling of No Try was upheld and the Raiders couldn’t record a score.
The Raiders continued to press the Sharks line however where unable to score before the break as both sides went to the sheds with the Sharks in the lead 12-0.
The Cronulla Sharks began the second period in fine form, with Jayson Bukuya finishing off some great lead up work and barging over for the try.
Maloney converted the try.
The Sharks continued to mount the pressure on the home side, and in the end it paid dividends as Barba crossed for his second of the afternoon.
The fullback pierced a depleted Raiders right-edge defence and took the Sharks lead out to 16-0. Maloney converted his fourth of the afternoon.
The momentum began to shift from here, with the home side finding their feet as the sun came out in the Capital.
With Hodgson sent to the bench, Kurt Baptiste stepped into the fray with immediate impact.
The no.14 found some space down the right edge and linked up with Jordan Rapana who broke the line and passed back in field to an unmarked Baptiste.
Croker’s conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
The Raiders continued their attacking raid as Rapana, arguably the Raiders best on the afternoon streaked away through soft Sharks defence to score under the sticks.
Croker added the extras to take the score to 24-10.
The Sharks were quick to respond after Jame Maloney pounced on a Raiders loose ball and took off up field.
Maloney was brought down however on the next play, the Sharks spread the ball wide and Valentine Holmes went over in the corner.
Maloney converted to take the lead out to 30-10.
The home side jumped back to action soon after when Aiden Sezar went over under the sticks after he looked to have dropped the ball over the line however it was found to be clean.
Croker added the extras and the score was 30-16.
The Sharks rallied, under the vocal travelling support, and were not to be out done.
For the second week running, Matt Prior crossed for a four pointer and extended is side’s lead to 34-16 with five minutes remaining. Maloney converted the try.
The game looked to be all but over at GIO Stadium until James Maloney again found himself in space, running from deep inside his own half to streak away for his second try of 2016.
Maloney was unable to convert his try from the sideline and the score remained 40-16 at full time.