The NYC Sharks have made it 13 on the trot with a convincing victory over the Canberra Raiders at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Saturday night.
It wouldn’t take long for the table-topping Sharks to get on the board against the eleventh placed Raiders, with Briton Nikora holding up the ball long enough to open up their left edge and stride through for the opening points in the second minute.
Kyle Flanagan wasted no time with adding the extras, and the Sharks would stroll out to a six points to nil lead.
It wouldn’t take long for the Sharks to get back to within striking range either, and they looked certain to score on two occasions, but some desperate Raiders defence would hold them out.
A penalty in the ninth minute gave the Sharks a fresh attacking chance, and they made the most of their opportunity, with Briton Nikora muscling over to grab himself a double. Flanagan couldn’t convert though, hitting the upright for the score to remain 10-0 after 10 minutes.
The Raiders wouldn’t make the same mistake on the following set, and after some strong defence, they broke the Sharks line and went charging 50 metres up field. The Sharks scrambling defence would contain the strike, and a nice pick up from Will Kennedy on the last would get the Sharks back on the attack.
The Sharks showed just how strong they can be in not only attack, but defence as well, and muscled up to knock the ball free for Tony Matautia to cross over in the left corner.
The dominance wouldn’t stop there, and Kyle Flanagan showed his brilliance as he put the defence in two minds and popped the short ball for Briton Nikora to bag himself a hat-trick in the 16th minute. With Flanagan’s conversion slotted over the Sharks would skip out to a 20 point lead half way through the first stanza.
The Raiders would finally feel some pressure relieve in the 21st minute with a penalty marching them down field to within attacking range.
They wouldn’t waste the opportunity either, and with a little scoot from Erin Clark would find themselves on the board. The conversion from Andre Niko sailed straight over the dot to make it 20-6.
The Sharks hit straight back though, as young half Luke Metcalf finished off a length of the field effort. It was Will Kennedy who showed his pace and gave it to Metcalf as the last line of defence approached, to take the home side out to a 26-6 lead.
It wouldn’t end there, as Tony Matautia barged over in the 31st minute to take make it 30-6, and with the conversion sailing wide this is how the score would remain.
The Raiders would give it a good crack before the break, making the most of some lazy defence to bust through the line and leave fullback Will Kennedy with all the work to do.
He held strong though and produced a try saving effort that saw the Raiders spill the pill right on the try line.
As the half time siren sounded the Raiders would claw back with a try making it a 20-point ball game. The teams headed to the sheds with the Sharks leading 30 points to 10.
The second period started much like the first, with the Sharks striking early through a lucky deflection that was cleaned up by Blayke Brailey. As he steamed ahead he popped it to Will Kennedy who strolled over untouched to make it 34-10.
Flanagan converted from just left of the sticks to put the Sharks out to a 36-10 lead after 46 minutes.
Raiders captain Jack Murchie would strike back straight after, with a strong set putting them right on the line. A strong run saw Murchie crash over for the Raiders opening points of the half, cutting the Sharks lead to 20.
The Sharks looked to have scored in the 54th minute, with a Flanagan cut out pass to winger Josh Tualagi putting him over in the corner. He would scrape the touch line though, and the score would remain 36-16.
The miss wouldn’t prove too costly, with Sharks front rower Daniel Vasquez putting in a strong run a couple of minutes later to bust the line and put it back inside for Kyle Flanagan to cross the stripe. With the conversion successful the score would bust out to 42-16.
The Raider stuck strong though, and off the back off a charging set, would cross right under the black dot just two minutes later. With an easy conversion from right in front the score would become 42-22.
Daniel Vasquez would be rewarded for his strong showing in the 65th minute, with a barging run close to the line putting his name on the score sheet to make it 46-22.
Young half Luke Metcalf would again show his electrifying pace on two more occasions as the clock wound down. The first would see him weave his way through the traffic to bring up the 50 for the Sharks. The second, a length of the field effort down the right hand touch line. The two conversions from Kyle Flanagan were slotted with ease and the score would push out to 58-22 with a minute and a half left on the clock.
This is how the score would remain as the full time siren sounded, and the Sharks edge further ahead on the competition ladder.
Tries; Briton Nikora (3), Tony Matautia (2), Luke Metcalf (3), Will Kennedy, Kyle Flanagan, Daniel Vasquez
Goals; Flanagan 7/11 (conv.)
Tries; Erin Clark, Jack Murchie (2), Niko
Goals; Andre Niko 3/4 (conv.)