Sharks score impressive trial win

The Sharks will head into round one and return bout with the Newcastle Knights with plenty of confidence after scoring an impressive trial win at Maitland Sportsground. 

An early try to Josh Dugan put the Sharks on top, a couple more four-pointers in the opening 40-minutes gave them an 18-0 lead, before a team made up primarily of the younger brigade went on with the job in the second period in recording a 30-6 win.

On the back of a triumph over Manly last week without their established stars, the win over the Knights caps a solid pre-season for the Sharks and coach John Morris with the kick off to the 2019 season less than two weeks away. 

With Matt Moylan chiming in on both sides of the field the Sharks looked dangerous early and they were first on the board, Josh Dugan slicing through after a clever pass from the fullback. 

In his first game in Sharks colours Shaun Johnson added the extras and the visitors led 6-0. 

The game was an arm wrestle for the next period of the contest and after denying the Knights at one end, the Sharks would cross at the other and again it was Moylan who played a major role in the try.

Claiming the ball down the Sharks left Moylan went to the line, chipped over the top and when Knights fullback Connor Watson made a mess of cleaning up the bouncing football, Josh Morris was on the spot to ground the ball just inches from the dead ball line. 

Again Johnson was able to add the extras and after 28 minutes the Sharks had a 12-0 advantage. 

After defending repeat sets on their line the Sharks again worked their way back down the field in the final moments of the first half and this time it was the irresistible force of Andrew Fifita crashing over adjacent to the uprights. 

Johnson chipped over the simple conversion as the siren was sounding and the Sharks would go to the break up by 18-0. 

The only negative to come from the Sharks opening 40-minutes was a head knock suffered by Josh Dugan, the centre assisted from the field just 15-minutes in but to the relief of all concerned appeared to show no major ill-effects after the game. Dugan took no further part in the game. 

Coach Morris made multiple changes shortly after half time, resting a number of his stars, however the rookies would continue the good work from the first 40, going step for step with the Knights in the opening 10 minutes. 

The Sharks then added to their lead, Will Kennedy throwing a well-timed pass to Sione Katoa, with the winger dashing down the flank before diving over in the north-western corner at Maitland Showground. 

Johnson kept his perfect kicking record intact in slotting the sideline conversion, before being rested by Morris and coming from the field with the Sharks up 24-0.

The try of the evening would follow and it came from some clever play from Johnson’s replacement Kyle Flanagan, the young half sending Kennedy on a long break with a perfect inside ball, the fullback finding Chad Townsend in support. 

Flanagan added the extras and it was 30-0 Sharks with still 25 minutes left on the clock. 

Morris would then make wholesale changes for the final quarter of the match, but other than a try to Newcastle winger Star Toa they would keep their line intact. 

It was a pleasing win for Morris with the season just around the corner, with a number of his high profile stars in great form heading into round one. 

Fifita was outstanding in playing out the full first 40-minutes, while Moylan looked likely to create something with every touch. 

Johnson was controlled in his approach and his combination with Townsend seems to be coming together nicely. 

Other than the head knock suffered by Dugan, the only other injury concern was a Katoa twisted ankle, with medical staff to assess the injury in the coming days. 

The Sharks begin their season with a game against the Knights in Newcastle on March 15. 


SHARK 30
Sione Katoa, Josh Dugan, Chad Townsend, Josh Morris, Andrew Fifita tries, Shaun Johnson 4, Kyle Flanagan goals
beat
NEWCASTLE 6
Star Toa try, Kayln Ponga goal