By Troy Whittaker
An impregnable defensive display has powered the Cronulla Caringbah Sharks to a dominant 16-0 shutout of the North Sydney Bears in an entertaining NRL curtain-raiser at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
In what was an error-riddled game, the Sharks were able to capitalise on their chances while nullifying those of the Bears. The final scoreline was an accurate reflection of the gulf between the two sides on the night.
After withstanding a battering opening 22 minutes where neither side gave an inch in defence, it was the Sharks who drew first blood when hooker Michaela Peck barged over from close range. The conversion attempt was waved away and the Sharks had a 4-0 lead.
It wasn't long before the Cronulla Caringbah girls struck again, this time through a special 40-metre individual effort from centre Jessica Sergis. Halfback Nita Maynard successfully converted the try and the Sharks took a 10-point buffer into halftime.
The Sharks picked up where they left off after the break when winger Shontelle Stowers latched onto a bouncing kick and burst through the line to score adjacent to the posts. Maynard again nailed the conversion and Cronulla Caringbah was out to a commanding 16-0 lead.
North Sydney threw everything they had at the Sharks in the final 20 minutes but the home side remained resilient, constantly turning the Bears away to secure a hard-fought victory.
Sharks lock Ruan Sims was at her damaging best with ball in hand, consistently bursting through the initial tackler, while fullback Tayla Preston was a constant threat from the back.
The win is Sharks' fourth of the season and leaves them sitting in fourth position on the NSWRL Women's Premiership ladder. They will now take on the second-placed Mounties next Saturday at Aubrey Keech Reserve.