Maloney's Golden boot sees the Sharks home
The Sharks have snuck home to a 1-point win over the Warriors in Golden Point, to equal a long-standing Club record of 11 consecutive wins.
The Sharks were made to work for the 19-18 win in front of 12,074 proud Members and fans, as as the Warriors brought a fierce challenge to the Shire.
An 87th minute field-goal to James Maloney was the clincher, as the Sharks kept their unbeaten run at home intact after 8 games played at Southern Cross Group Stadium in 2016.
No doubt a man ear-marked by Coach Shane Flanagan during the week, Warriors’ half Shaun Johnson was asking plenty of questions of the Sharks defence early.
It would be Maloney though – a former halves partner of Johnson’s – who would look most likely to cross for early points.
Maloney’s scoop and jink to all-but break the Warriors’ line had the Sharks within inches of the goal-line. The visitors’ scramble defence saw the scores remain at zero.
Repeat sets were the order of the day early on for the Warriors, who managed to trap Gerard Beale in-goal and earn another set of six.
Copping a barrage of early pressure, the Sharks line would finally give, as Blake Ayshford crossed for the opening points.
Warriors hooker Isaac Luke converted, and the visitors went out by six.
Ben Barba had looked to have got the Sharks back on level terms when he dashed 40 metres, only
Another former Shark in Jono Wright would soon after cross for the Warriors second try, as the red-hot Kiwi side shot out to a 10-point front.
Needing a spark, the Sharks found one in hooker Michael Ennis, who spun close to the line to score, and to keep his side well in the mix.
Maloney converted from under the posts, in narrowing the deficit to four.
Earning a penalty with the half time siren within earshot, the Sharks would again cross, this time through Ricky Leutele.
Leutele’s presence of mind to keep the ball carrying arm off the ground to reach out and score had the Sharks back at level pegging.
Maloney slotted the side-line conversion to send the side back into the Sheds with a 2-point lead.
The Sharks came out of the sheds full of running and crossed for a penalty try when Jayson Bukuya was ruled to have done enough to earn the concession of the NRL Bunker.
Maloney converted once more, as the Sharks leapt to an 8-point front.
The 47th minute try would be the last of the Sharks’ night, with the Warriors’ half Thomas Leuluai rounding out the last of the four-pointers with his 58th minute effort.
Luke again gave reason for the touch judges to raise their flags, the score brought back to that of 18-16.
It looked as if the Sharks had done enough late, though a 73rd minute penalty goal to the Warriors had the game destined for extra time.
A Maloney attempt at a one-pointer had sailed wide in normal time, before the referees called an end to regular proceedings.
Beyond the 80 minutes, Chad Townsend had cut the Warriors defence to pieces, and had looked to have sent Ben Barba in untouched to score the would-be match winner.
Barba though couldn’t hold the ball, and the Warriors earned a life-line late on in the piece.
Unable to make the Sharks pay for their error, the New Zealand outfit went within inches of nabbing a try on the brink of the half-time buzzer in Golden Point, only for the Sharks scramble to send the game nearer the 90th minute mark.
Working the ball inside the Warriors’ 20m line, and within shooting distance, James Maloney snapped a wobbly field-goal to see the Sharks home.
The one-pointer was the second in as many matches for Maloney, as the Sharks ran out 1-point victors to remain atop the NRL ladder.