Victory in the capital
The Sharks got their 2017 season well and truly underway with a seven-try, 42-16 win over the Raiders in their round two match at GIO Stadium.
After weathering a physical opening to the match it was all Sharks from there, James Maloney and three-try hero Wade Graham carving up the Canberra right hand side in an emphatic display.
The disappointment of last week’s loss was quickly erased with the Sharks dismantling one of the pre-season premiership favourites on their home turf.
Maloney opened the scoring in the 13th minute, before an error from the kick off gifted the Raiders field position and from the ensuing scrum they were able to capitalise.
Spinning ball wide on the first play Jack Wighton got outside of the Sharks defense and managed to plant the ball down near to touch.
Aiden Sezer was off target with his conversion attempt but the Raiders had grabbed the early advantage at 4-2 in front.
The two teams continued to rip into each other in defense and it took 10 minutes for the next points to be added, this time it was the Sharks going over, Ricky Leutele beating a couple of tackles in a determined run.
Maloney was perfect with his kick and it was 8-4 Sharks after 25 minutes of the match.
That lead would extend to 12-4 when Wade Graham ran a great line to score off a Maloney pass and despite the five eighth missing the conversion attempt the Sharks had a handy eight-point lead.
However just when the Sharks seemed to be asserting some dominance, the Raiders would strike back, a Blake Austin line break leading to a Jordan Rapana try.
Sezer was perfect from the western sideline and the teams would go to half time with the Sharks 12-10 in front.
The Sharks came out with the same intensity that they showed in the first period and the Raiders weren’t helping their cause either, a penalty goal from a late hit on Maloney pushing the lead out to four.
From there the Sharks took control and it was the youngster Jayden Brailey into the action, the hooker backing up a Luke Lewis break to touch down close to the posts.
Maloney slotted the kick from in front and it was 20-10 with 30 minutes of the match remaining.
Not long after it was Graham again, this time charging onto a Maloney pass for his second, with the Sharks vice captain diving over from dummy half for his third.
Maloney was good with one of two kicks at goal and the Sharks had pushed their lead out to 30-10 with a little over 20 minutes left on the clock.
The Raiders tried to respond with field position and possession going there way during the next 10 minutes of the match, but the Sharks refused to buckle, some outstanding goal line defense turning them back time and time again.
And they were rewarded for their defensive endeavours, with Matt Prior the beneficiary at the other end, the Sharks prop slamming the ball down for his teams sixth try in the 71st minute.
Maloney kicked his fourth conversion and sixth goal of the night and the Sharks had confirmed the two points were headed back to Woolooware at 36-10 in front.
Then came the icing on the cake, Joseph Paulo grubber kicking, with skipper Paul Gallen diving on the ball for his teams final try of the night.
The Raiders would score a consolation try in the final moments but it was too little too late as the Sharks had registered a convincing and confidence boosting win.
The Sharks now head home to prepare for the local derby clash against the Dragons at Southern Cross Stadium next Sunday afternoon.
Wade Graham 3, Ricky Leutele, Matt Prior, Paul Gallen, Jaydem Brailey tries, James Maloney 7 goals
Jack Wighton 2, Jordan Rapana tries, Aiden Sezer 2 goals