The NYC Cronulla Sharks have beaten the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 30 – 10 at Southern Cross Group Stadium, consolidating their place at the top of the ladder.
It was the boys from Belmore who opened the scoring, catching the Sharks off guard in the 2nd minute when Morgan Harper orchestrated a swift backline play that set up Tuipulotu Katoa to cross with ease on the right corner.
Adam Keighran’s conversion was waved away to leave the Bulldogs ahead 4 – 0.
The Sharks hit back immediately, winning consecutive sets deep inside Bulldogs territory and the hard work finally paid off when Briton Nikora found outside back Sione Katoa in space on the right.
Katoa lept over in the 10th minute and Kyle Flannagan slotted the conversion to give the home side a 6-4 lead.
The Bulldogs would proceed to test the Sharks’ defence, with Harper and Brandon Wakeham causing trouble down the right flank but it was Joshua Tuilagi to the rescue, cleaning up a particularly dangerous Canterbury-Bankstown grubber to regain possession.
Momentum would then swing back in favour of the Sharks once again, winning consecutive sets 30-metres out from the line.
In the 25th minute, Flanagan tricked Bulldogs defenders to scoot from dummy half and cross and when the Sharks’ halfback successfully converted his own try his side was ahead 12-4.
A bit of push and shove landed the Sharks’ Tuilagi with 10 minutes in the bin, but there was no stopping Cronulla’s centre Clayton Uia from snatching up a loose ball and sprinting 40m to crash over in the 36th minute, Flanagan booting the conversion to give the Sharks a 18-4 lead at half time.
HALF TIME – Sharks 18 Bulldogs 4
In the 16th minute of the second period the Bulldogs’ shifted play to the right and Tuipulotu Katoa found space to touch down on the right wing. Keighran booted an impressive sideline conversion and the Sharks would lead 18-10.
Cronulla’s retaliated in the form of Joahua Carr, who steamrolled his way through opposing defenders to be stopped just inches from the line and now hungrier than ever, the home side fought hard to win consecutive sets just 20 metres out.
The 56th minute saw the Sharks shift to the left and winger Johnathan Tufuga grabbed himself a four pointer in the corner. Flanagan slotted the conversion and the Sharks would lead 24-10.
Determined to extend their lead, Cronulla’s Josh Tualagi impressed the crowd at SCGS, ploughing through big Bulldogs defenders to score next to the posts in the 64th minute for his teams’ last try of the night.
Another accurate conversion courtesy of Flanagan edged the Sharks ahead to win 30-10 completed the scoring and confirmed the win.
FULL TIME – Sharks 30 Bulldogs 10
Sione Katoa 2, Kyle Flannagan, Clayton Uia, Josh Tualagi, Johnathan Tufuga tries, Flanagan 5 goals
Tuipulotu Katoa 2 tries, Adam Keighran 2 goals,