Sharks go down in heartbreaker

A Blake Green field goal inside the final five minutes has seen the Warriors edge out the Sharks by 19-18 in a heart stopping round 18 clash at Westpac Stadium in Wellington. 

The Sharks were brave in producing a determined defensive effort in a game where their opponents had more than 60 per cent of the ball, but a lot of the pressure they put on themselves with unforced errors and nine penalties conceded. 

However despite their ill-discipline the Sharks were still in front late in the game and looked likely to hold on, until a Warrior penalty goal and then the Green field goal decided the result. 

Just three minutes into the game a stripping penalty against the Sharks saw Isaac Luke put first points on the board with a goal from 35 metres out and in front of the posts as the Warriors took a 2-0 lead. 

The Sharks would respond soon after and it came from Johnson in his first game against his old club, the New Zealand international throwing a perfectly timed short ball for fellow Kiwi Briton Nikora to score.

Johnson would convert from 20 metres to the right of the uprights and the Sharks led 6-2 after the opening 10 minutes of the match. 

The Sharks would soon extend their advantage through some spectacular play, Matt Moylan slicing through, throwing a one handed off-load to Bronson Xerri, who then flicked the ball back inside to Chad Townsend with the half back sprinting the last 20 metres to touch down. 

Again Johnson was on target and the Sharks led 12-2. 

The next points however would come from the Warriors, some clever lead up play from Luke resulting in a Blake Green try and after the conversion it was 12-8 Sharks some 25 minutes into the contest. 

Despite the Warriors throwing plenty at them in final 15 minutes of the opening period the Sharks defended grimly and held firm in taking a four-point lead to the break in what was only the third time in 2019 their noses were in front at half time. 

Again forced to defend set after set on their own line in opening 15 minutes of the second half after repeated penalties the Warriors elected to take a shot at goal, Luke reducing the margin to just two after a successful kick.

Weathering the storm a penalty piggy backed the Sharks into an attacking position and in one of their few attacking opportunities a cleverly worked backline play saw Nikora put Sosaia Feki away, the winger doing a remarkable job to get the ball down despite the attention of New Zealand skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. 

Johnson was picture perfect from the sideline and the Sharks were up 18-10 midway through the second half. 

With the rain making bad handling a challenge the Sharks spilt an opportunity at one end and the Warriors made them pay at the other, Kodi Nikorima stretching out to score adjacent to the uprights. 

On the field in place of Luke, Channel Harris-Tavita converted and again it was anyone’s ball game at 18-16 with 16 mins to go. 

The game would then take a turn for the worse for the Sharks when Andrew Fifita was sin-binned for taking a Warriors player out while not in possession of the ball and the Harris-Tavita penalty goal, his teams third of the night, levelled the scores with 12 minutes remaining. 

The Sharks tried desperately to hold on, but after having to do a mountain of defensive work it was the Kiwis with all the running, red Warriors moving into an attacking position for Green to slot what was to be a match-winning field goal. 

Continuing to push the Sharks had a chance when rookie winger Ronaldo Mulitalo made a break down the left hand flank, then with the siren sounding Townsend had a shot at one point to even the scores, but wasn't to be as they suffered a fifth consecutive loss. 

Of the five losses, four have come by two, two, two and now one point, scoring more tries than their opponents in each of those games, in what have been a frustrating run of outs for the Cronulla side. 

The Sharks now have a short turnaround before facing the Cowboys in a Thursday night match at PoointsBet Stadium next week. 

SHARKS 18
Briton Nikora, Chad Townsend, Sosaia Feki tries, Shaun Johnson 3 goals

lost to 

WARRIORS 19

Blake Green, Kodi Nikorima tries, Isaac Luke 3, Channel Harris-Tavita 2 goals, Green field goal