Ball Sharks bounce into a GF qualifier
Not many outside the inner sanctum of the SG Ball Sharks gave them much chance of beating the undefeated Sydney Roosters, however against the odds, and despite losing two forwards along the way, the under-18 Cronulla side have come away 32-24 victors to move within a game of the Grand Final.
Giving up plenty of size to their opponents, the Sharks showed toughness, poise and resilience, outplaying the heavily favoured Roosters in what was an outstanding win.
The Sharks began full of energy and they were immediately rewarded when Will Swann won the race to an Issac Langmuir grubber to register first points for his team.
The try was converted by Kai Broadhurst and the Sharks had an early 6-0 lead.
They added to their advantage when Vito Tevaga scored out wide and when Declan Casey crossed in almost the same spot minutes later, the extras added by Broadhurst from an acute angle, it was 16-0 Sharks.
The Roosters, who came into the contest as the undefeated minor premiers, managed a late four pointer just minutes before half time, with the teams going to the break with the Sharks enjoying a handy 16-4 lead.
An injury to hard-working lock Damon Smith in the first play of the second period stalled the Sharks momentum and the Roosters took advantage, a try out wide, with the kick at goal successful, making it 16-10 with still half an hour of the match remaining.
From there the Sharks kicked into gear once again, Casey scoring his second after a smart exchange of passing and when Broadhurst converted his team was up by 12 and in control at 22-10.
The try that sealed it then came shortly after and it was the result of some individual brilliance, back rower Kyle Pickering slicing through before stepping the fullback on a 45-metre run to the line.
The kick from in front made to 28-10 and with time running out the Sharks appeared home.
Another try, this time to winger Elliott Moaga pushed the lead out even further and despite a late rally from the Roosters, coming as they threw the ball around in desperation, the Sharks would prevail and advance to a Grand Final qualifier in two weeks time.
The Sharks had a number of outstanding performers, the forwards battling hard against a much bigger Rooster pack, while the backs capitalised on the dominance in the middle in scoring some sparkling tries.
Halfback and captain Broadhurst also earned some special praise from SG Ball coach Chris O’Connell for his control and excellent kicking game, as did fullback Casey who the coach expressed may have played his best game of the 2018 season.
The Sharks now have a week off to recover from any bumps and bruises, before playing a Grand Final qualifier against a yet to be determined opponent.
Declan Casey 2, Kyle Pickering. Elliott Moaga, Vito Tevaga, Will Swann tries, Kai Broadhurst 4 goals