After brave defenses of their state and national titles won in 2015 the Matthews Cup and SG Ball Sharks bowed out in their respective competitions after finals losses to the Penrith Panthers at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday.
The under-16 Matthews Cup Sharks, second at the end of the nine-round regular season, went down by 20-10 to the Panthers while in the SG Ball the Penrith side proved far too good in registering a 32-6 win.
While a disappointing end for the young Sharks teams both were highly competitive throughout their campaigns with a number of future stars unearthed.
In the Matthews Cup after drawing with the Panthers earlier in the year the Sharks entered the match in a confident frame of mind but they were on the back foot early, with Penrith going out to a 12-0 lead.
The Sharks bridged the gap to make it 12-6 at the half time break before another Panther try early in the second period took them out to a 16-6 advantage.
The Sharks battled back, making it 16-10 and looked to have leveled the scores only for a possible try to be disallowed by the match officials.
That would be as close as the Sharks would get, the Panthers securing the victory with a fourth try in stretching the final winning margin out to 10 points.
In the SG Ball the Sharks went behind 12-0, before a Semisi Kioa try, converted by Luke Metcalf made it 12-6 and at just six behind at the half time break the Sharks were close enough if good enough with 35 minutes of the match to go.
However unfortunately for the Sharks the second half was all Panthers, four more tries seeing them runaway with the result and progress to the Grand Final qualifier next weekend.
The Ball Sharks had an up and down season, beginning their campaign strongly before struggling towards the back end. A convincing victory over Bulldogs in week one of the finals gave the Sharks hope of a finals charge before the Panthers loss brought their year to an abrupt end.
A handful of Ball Sharks will move up to train on with John Morris’s NYC squad, while Sharks Academy squads will come together throughout the winter to continue specialized strength and skills training.
Penrith 20 (M Trindall 2, E Clark-Wood, J Dennis tries; D White 2 goals)
Cameron O'Connor, Kai Broadhurst tries; Broadhurst goal)
Penrith 32 (J Tago 2, M Ritchie, W Burns, S Radovu, I Thompson tries; S O'Sullivan 4 goals)
Cronulla 6 (Semisi Kioa try, Luke Metcalf goal)