Sharks score crucial win over Storm

In a match typical of games played between the two teams, the Sharks have withstood a strong second half from the Storm in running out 17-14 winners in their match at AAMI Park.

The Sharks had the better of the match in the opening half, setting up a seven-point advantage only for the Storm to fight back, but in the end the Cronulla side showed outstanding character in holding on for a crucial victory.

It was a win that has kept the Sharks well and truly in the hunt for a top four finish.

The Sharks had appeared to make the perfect start when Josh Dugan jumped spectacularly over his opposite number to catch a Chad Townsend bomb, only for the inside pass to go astray with the line open.

They wouldn't have to wait long however to open their account and it came on the back of a quick tap from skipper Paul Gallen, a fast play the ball from Wade Graham and a 10-metre dash from Jayden Brailey, with the hooker stretching out to score five metres to the left of the uprights.

Valentine Holmes added the extras and the Sharks led 6-0 after the first nine minutes of the match.

On the back of five penalties in a row and some concerted pressure, the Storm would bounce back, Will Chambers throwing a perfect one-handed pass despite the attention of a couple of defenders, for Suliasi Vunivalu to score wide out.

Cameron Smith couldn't convert with the score 6-4 Sharks 24 minutes into the first half.

The Storm had a couple of chances, one when Josh Addo-Carr made a dash down the eastern touchline, only for Holmes and Brailey to reel him in, before again Addo-Carr had looked likely to score, but for a Curtis Scott knock-on in the lead up saw the try disallowed.

However despite the home team having the better of the chances, it would be the Sharks who were next on the board and it came through some brilliant attacking play.

A short-side shift saw Sosaia Feki find some space, tip-toe down the sideline, before throwing a speculator for Holmes to claim the ball and score his 19th try of the 2018 season.

The try equalled the record for tries in a season, a mark he jointly holds with David Peachy.

Holmes was able to add the two points following his try and the Sharks had a handy 12-4 advantage.

Just before the break Townsend chipped over a field goal from close range and the Sharks led 13-4 at the break.

The Storm hit back shortly after half time, Billy Slater scoring off a well timed Cameron Munster grubber and when Smith kicked the conversion it was 13-10 Sharks with still 34 minutes of the match remaining.

The Sharks had a couple of chances to add to their lead but then he next 20 minutes of the match saw the momentum turn in favour of the Storm and it took some gutsy defence to repel their attacking raids.

Firstly a try saver on Scott from a scrambling Sharks right side denied the Storm, then it was Holmes and Jesse Ramien who combined to hold up Joe Stimson and Cronulla would retain their three-point lead.

After a number of attacking sets on the Sharks line a loose ball was scooped up by Ramien, with the centre carrying the ball to within 10-metres of the try line, only for Dugan to show great strength from the next play the ball, crashing over with three Storm players hanging off him.

Holmes was off-line with the kick but courtesy of the field goal just before the half time break, the Sharks were up by seven with 11 minutes left on the clock.

Now playing catch up the Storm threw the ball around, went side to side, and eventually on the end of it all Vunivalu would score his second of the afternoon.

Smith couldn't convert but it was 17-14 with a tick over seven minutes to go, setting up a grandstand finish.

As the Sharks knew they would the Storm kept coming, but the Cronulla team was equal to the task, holding on for an outstanding win and one that seals the Sharks place in the eight and gives them a legitimate shot at finishing in the four.

The Sharks now head home to play the North Queensland Cowboys next Saturday night.

SHARKS 17

Jayden Brailey, Valentine Holmes, Josh Dugan tries, Holmes 2 goals, Chad Townsend field goal.
beat
STORM 14
Suliasi Vunivalu 2, Billy Slater tries, Cameron Smith goal