Sharks sneak home against Tigers
In a performance again littered by far too many errors the Sharks have done just enough to claim a 22-16 win over the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
The Sharks showed enough class to hang in despite a 7-2 penalty count against them, coming from behind in the second half to get back in the winners circle after a loss against the Gold Coast the previous week.
Relieved more than thrilled with the win, back rower Wade Graham summed up the feeling in the Sharks camp immediately after the game.
“We limped across the line, we’ll take the two points and have a rest with the rep weekend,” Graham told Fox Sports after the game.
The game began with both side butchering try scoring opportunities, first it was Tiger David Nofoaluma failing to ground the ball in the in-goal, then at the other end it was Sharks James Maloney and Ricky Leutele getting their wires crossed as the ball bounced free with the try line wide open.
Just a few minutes later first points were registered when Mitchell Moses kicked a penalty goal for the Tigers but the first four pointer was to come shortly after.
Camping in Tigers territory a quick shift of the ball put Tony Williams into space and the big back rower, in his first game in the top grade for the Cronulla club, was able to crash over.
The try was the 50th for Williams in the NRL.
James Maloney converted from a wide angle and it was 6-2 Sharks.
Shortly after the Sharks would extend that advantage with a typical Sosaia Feki try, the winger showing great strength to get the ball down in the left hand corner despite the efforts of two Wests Tigers defenders.
Maloney was wide with the kick at goal and it was 10-2 Sharks.
A James Tedesco try was denied by the video referee then a couple of Sharks errors would then gift the Tigers field position and they were goo enough to accept the invitation to work their way back into the match.
Luke Brooks would burst through and off load for Kevin Naiqama to score in the 25th minute, then Moses Suli strolled over after some ordinary Sharks defense.
Moses kicked the second of two conversion to make it 12-10 Tigers, with a 38th minute penalty goal pushing the home teams lead out to four points at the half time break.
With big guns Tedesco and Aaron Woods not returning for the Tigers in the second half the Sharks had every reason to be confident however their opponents hadn’t read the script as they kept the Cronulla side at bay and managed to push the lead out to six when a penalty goal made it 16-10.
Realising the game was getting away from them the Sharks rolled the sleeves up and marched down the field soon after the penalty and enjoying probably their first piece of good fortune were rewarded with a try.
When a towering bomb was let bounce by the Tigers Wade Graham pounced, passed to flying Valentine Holmes with the fullback scooting over underneath the uprights.
Maloney converted and it was 16-all with 22 minutes remaining.
Still a depleted Tigers team refused to concede but the Sharks kept coming, getting their noses in front as a result of some individual brilliance from halfback Chad Townsend who re-gathered his own chip kick and grounded the ball a metre right of the posts.
Maloney was successful with the simple kick at goal putting the Sharks up 22-16 with 10 minutes left on the clock.
There were a few anxious moments in the final 10, with the Sharks again their own worst enemies but they got the job done, claiming the all-important two competition points but in a fashion that still wouldn’t have thrilled coach Shane Flanagan.
The Sharks now have a weekend off due to the rep round before playing the Dragons on Friday night.
Sosaia Feki, Tony Williams, Chad Townsend, Valentine Holmes tries, James Maloney 4 goals
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