By: Liam Tapper (@liamtapper)
From debuting players to flying black cats, the Cronulla Sharks continued along in winning fashion yesterday, recording a 26-10 victory over the Penrith Panthers.
1. From park football to the top flight; our Jets soar
With State of Origin III only days away, the bookies expected the Sharks’ winning streak in 2016 to be broken by the Penrith Panthers on Sunday afternoon.
However, the Members of the Sharks side who have been performing week-in-week-out for the Newtown Jets stood up to the mark and delivered when it mattered.
Congratulations must go to Mitch and Nu Brown who returned to first grade, Matthew McIlwrick and Jesse Sene-Lefao who made their Club debut along with Kurt Capewell who made his NRL debut.
2. Origin no excuse for energetic Sharks
Often used as an excuse for teams this time of year, losing players to Origin duties can have a detrimental effect on teams and help shape the remainder of their season.
Not the Sharks.
Losing the likes of Paul Gallen, Wade Graham, James Maloney, Andrew Fifita and Jack Bird to the NSW Blues camp, many could be excused for thinking the Sharks may suffer their first lose in 13 matches however a resolute 17 men took the field yesterday to prove history wrong.
3. Barba fully-back to his blistering best
There are few better sights then a Ben Barba in full flight, ball in hand, on his way to the try line. And we saw this not once, but twice yesterday.
Yes, Barba did score one two occasions yesterday however it was his break with six minutes on the clock where Waqa Blake took the flyer into touch which gave Sharks lovers and lovers of the NRL that glimmer of hope that Benny is indeed back!
Following one of his best pre-seasons to date, Barba is fighting fit and looking his ever elusive self in the no.1 jersey in 2016 and boy don’t the Sharks love it.
4. Brown honours 16 other brothers before being the best man
With Ricky Leutele carrying an injury all week at training, Mitch Brown was set to cover the Samoan international if he failed to pull up healthy prior to kick off.
The only thing was, Mitch Brown was meant to right beside his brother who was getting married yesterday, as his best man.
Despite his familial duties, Brown took to the field in his first NRL game in 2016, scored a try and made it to the reception (in a suit) in time to make his best man speech.
5. Black cats’ 14th man steals the show
When Isaah Yeo streaked toward the try line in the 72nd minute of the match, he wasn’t the only black cat streaking down field.
While Yeo headed north, a small black cat managed to find it’s way onto the field and took off to the southern end of the field.
The cat had media commentators transfixed along with spectators watching both at the ground and at home.
Thankfully, the 14 black cats on the field didn’t prove to be an unlucky omen for the Sharks on the afternoon.