Despite a late resurgence, the Sharks have been unable to stave off a strong Brisbane outfit, with the Broncos scoring a 26-points-to-18 win over the defending champions.
The Sharks Premiership defence started in that exact form and fashion, with a 5-man tackle sending the Broncos’ Adam Blair back and into his in-goal on the first play of the new season.
Unable to crack the visitors’ defence, the Sharks were then called into question on their own line – with the Broncos running in the first points courtesy of winger Jordan Kahu.
Kahu’s swerve to evade the Sharks’ men was enough to touch down, and the flank turned four into six courtesy of his own boot.
A response from the Sharks took only a matter minutes, with Gerard Beale finishing off a well-worked backline move to score his – and the Sharks’ – first of the new campaign.
Maloney obliged from the tee, drawing the scores level at six inside the opening 10 minutes.
Finding their rhythm early doors, the sides exchanged penalties, with Kahu opting to take the points on offer in the 20th minute.
The goal sailing between the posts, the Broncos took a two-point advantage with a quarter of the match gone.
James Roberts sent the Broncos out by 8 when he crossed for points, collecting a deft Anthony Milford grubber into the in-goal to score. Kahu would convert with ease, keeping his perfect night with the boot intact.
The 8-point deficit for the Sharks would remain at the siren’s sound, with Brisbane taking a 14-6 lead into the sheds.
The change of ends wouldn’t bring about a change of fortunes for the Sharks, with the Broncos again crossing through big winger Corey Oates.
A bunker referral came back in the favour of the Brisbane side, with Kahu again raising the touch judges’ flags.
In reply, an inspired show-and-go from Chad Townsend had the nippy number seven into space, with his halves partner Maloney trailing through on a grubber to have the Sharks right back into the thick of the contest.
Again the sides would trade blows in the middle third, each striving to not give an inch or to present an opportunity to the other.
But that’s what the Broncos did with an error in the 59th minute of play, with Grand Final hero Ricky Leutele capitalising with a try.
With a touch of luck, Maloney sent the ball through the uprights, to edge the Sharks back within two.
Earning position as Andrew Fifita was sent above the horizontal, the Sharks again looked likely to snatch points, but the Broncos muscled up to repel the hosts’ attack.
Turning defence into attack and working the ball downfield, Milford again found a way to break the Sharks’ hearts – light-stepping close to the line seeing him cross for a 70th minute try.
Kahu made no mistake from near-on in front of the posts, extending the Broncos’ lead to 8.
The margin – as it did at half time – would remain, with the Broncos scoring an opening round win in front of 11,493 Members and fans.
CRONULLA SHARKS – 18
Tries: Beale, Maloney, Leutele | Goals: Maloney (Conv. 3/3)
DEF. BY BRISBANE BRONCOS – 26
Tries: Kahu, Roberts, Oates | Goals: Kahu (Conv. 3/3, Pen. 1/1)