The Illawarra Steelers scored a clean sweep with three wins from the three round one junior rep matches played at Shark Park on Saturday.
A new-look Tarsha Gale side were beaten 56-14, unable to stop a rampaging Steelers team in the first game of the day, the Matthews Cup boys were their own worst enemies in going down 16-12, while the SG Ball Sharks were overrun in the second half as they were well-beaten 36-4 by a slick Illawarra outfit.
It was a disappointing day for the three Sharks teams but there were enough good signs to indicate better things are ahead in the respective NSWRL Junior Representative competitions.
In the opening match the Tarsha Sharks were perhaps a little overawed in their round one clash, falling behind 32-0 before they were able to post first points on the stroke of half time courtesy of a Millie Graham try.
The Sharks, who won the Tarsha Gale crown in 2018 but this year field a young and inexperienced line up, were outscoring by just four tries to two in the second period but the slow start would give them no chance of starting the defence of their title with a win.
A long range four-pointer to Jaida White, one of the few returnees from 2018, was a highlight of the second half, with Kyla Johnston the Sharks other try scorer.
In the Matthews Cup the under 16's Sharks began well enough when Chaz Jarvis touched down in the north-western corner to open the scoring after some enterprising play from his inside men.
The match was stop-start, the referee awarding an inordinate amount of penalties and with his excessive whistle blowing going both ways, a 4-all half time score was a fair representation of the closeness of the contest.
The Sharks again edged in front early in the second stanza when some clever footwork from Ta Wehi Waitere saw the young centre touch down, however the next 15-minute period was all Steelers, with the visitors notching three tries to push out to a 16-8 advantage.
The Sharks gave themselves hope with an Angus Sutherland try with time left on the clock, but more penalties, coupled with errors and missed opportunities and the Steelers would take home the points after a 16-12 triumph.
While youth and inexperience at a junior rep level could perhaps be used as an reason the first two Sharks teams failed to play to their best, the SG Ball Sharks had no such excuse, with the majority of the squad returning after playing either under 16's or under 18's last year.
The under 18 Sharks were first on the board through rampaging winger Marco Talagi, but that would be as good as it would get, the Illawarra side asserting their authority in taking a 14-4 lead to the half time break.
As hard as the Sharks may have tried in the second 35 minutes nothing went their way, mistakes and ill-discipline enabling the Steelers to dominate as they recorded a 36-4 win, leaving the young Cronulla squad with plenty of work to do ahead of their next match.
The two mens teams will now have two weeks to reassess and go again due to round two byes, with the Tarsha Gale Sharks the only side in action as they take on the St George Dragons next Saturday.
The Matthews Cup Sharks play the Eels in round three, while the SG Ball team travels to Perth to play the West Coast Pirates.
Mille Graham, Kyla Johnston, Jaida White tries Lynda Howarth goal
Angus Sutherland, Ta Wehi Waitere, Chaz Jarvis tries
Marco Talagi try
See following links to a photo galleries from the three Saturday games, courtesy Steve Montgomery - ourfootyteam.com
Harold Matthews Cup