The Jersey Flegg Sharks have kept their premiership hopes well and truly alive in scoring a convincing 30-10 win in their elimination final against the Bulldogs in a match played at Kogarah Oval.
After a loss to the Panthers the previous week the Sharks needed to respond and they certainly did, returning to the form which saw them finish second at the end of the home and away season while setting them up for an assault at the title, beginning with a Grand Final qualifier against Mounties next week.
The Sharks defended strongly when it was required and showed plenty of enterprise with the ball, in a performance that would have pleased coach Dave Howlett and given the team a shot of confidence for the games ahead.
Bronson Xerri opened the Sharks account with a smart try off a well-worked move and when Braydon Trindall converted it was 6-0 to the young Cronulla side after the first 10 minutes.
The Sharks would double their advantage not long after, this time five eighth Jayden Millard showing good speed to outpace the cover defence after running onto a Luke Polselli pass.
Again the kick from Trindall was on target and it was 12-0 Sharks.
The Bulldogs managed to get one back with a four-pointer five minutes before the break but the Sharks would have been satisfied with their first half effort as they went to the sheds up by 12-4.
The Sharks came out for the second period with plenty of energy and they were rewarded in the early moments, hooker Harrison Smith diving over from short range to extend his teams advantage to 18-4 after Trindall slotted the easy conversion.
Smith was again in the action soon after and again the elusive number nine got across the line, this time diving over under the posts on the end of a clever exchange of passes and the Sharks had opened up a match-winning lead at 24-4 in front.
Now with their tails up and the resolve of the Bulldogs starting to wane, Xerri scored a second after a determined charge to make it 30-4 and it was essentially game over.
With the win secure the Sharks got a little sloppy in the closing stages and the Bulldogs did manage a consolation try with six minutes to go, but it wasn't going to be enough to deny the Sharks a spot in the qualifying finals match where they will take on the Mounties for a place in the Flegg Grand Final.
The Sharks website will provide details of the Flegg Grand Final qualifying match when they become available.
Bronson Xerri 2, Harrison Smith 2, Jayden Millard tries, Braydon Trindall 5 goals