A second lengthy road trip in the space of seven days was always going to present its challenges and that’s the way turned out for the junior Sharks with two losses and a win to the Tarsha Gale girls in round four matches against the Knights last weekend.
After the Tarsha Gale Sharks had dismantled the Knights with a 66-18 thumping, the boys found the going that little bit harder, with the Matthews Cup team fighting back before going down by 22-16, before the Ball Sharks slipped to their first loss of 2018, beaten 28-20 by the Newcastle 18’s at Cessnock on Saturday.
Following on from undefeated starts by all three sides, the two losses represented a slight speed hump for the young Sharks who will look to continue their push towards finals berths when they play St George in round five.
The trip to the Newcastle region to play the Knights came just seven days after the Sharks junior rep teams played on the road in Canberra in week four.
The day began well for the Sharks at the Cessnock Sports Ground field with another sizzling display from the Tarsha Gale girls.
After notching 80 and 98 points respectively at their two previous starts, the Tarsha Gale side crossed for 12 tries in a 48-point win, with Faith Nathan touching down four times, Madison Higgins-Ashby and Quincy Dodd on three occasions.
Higgins-Ashby has now scored 12 tries in three games to lead the competition try-scoring list, while Dodd has accumulated 78 points this Tarsha Gale season.
The Matthews Cup clash which followed proved to be a more difficult challenge for the Sharks in a game matching two undefeated sides.
The Knights jumped out to a 22-4 lead, before the Sharks edged closer when backrower Kitione Kautoga crossed to make it 22-10 at the break.
In a second half dominated by defence the under-16 Cronulla boys battled hard in keeping their opponents scoreless, with Sharks outside back Sam Stonestreet scoring the only try after half time. But it would be the Knights who held firm in inflicting the first defeat on the young Sharks squad so far in 2018.
The SG Ball match which followed was another tough and rugged affair and while the Sharks tried hard to get the better of the opposition, in the end the Knights were just a little too good in registering a five tries to three win.
The teams traded four-pointers in the first half Newcastle leading 22-20, however the second half followed a similar pattern to the Matthews Cup match, with the final 35 minutes characterised by solid defence from both teams.
In the final washup the Sharks couldn’t break down their opponents, with Newcastle coming away eight-point victors.
While the Tarsha Gale girls remain on top of the ladder after the conclusion of the fourth round, the Matthews Cup and SG Ball teams slipped slightly to sit in fifth place on the respective tables, both just two points shy of the competition leaders.
The three Sharks sides are next in action this Saturday when they host St George in matches to be played at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
The day will begin with the Tarsha Gale at 10.15am, the Matthews Cup gets underway at 12noon, with the SG Ball match kicking off at 1.45pm. A round one match in the Jersey Flegg between the Sharks and Roosters will follow the junior rep action.
Faith Nathan 4, Madison Higgins-Ashby 3, Quincy Dodd 2, Sariah Paki 2, Maeva Swann tries, Dodd 7, Higgins-Ashby, Swann goals
Jerome Heleta, Kitione Kautoga, Sam Stonestreet tries, Jordan Samrani 2 goals
Eliah Veikoso, Jonaiah Lualua, Jensen Taumoepeau tries, Kai Broadhurst 3, Angus Ernst goals