The Sharks Matthews Cup, SG Ball and Tarsha Gale teams had their final tune up matches before the start of their 2021seasons when they tackled the Newcastle Knights in trial games at PointsBet Stadium on Saturday.
Against a club in the Knights which traditionally produce strong teams in all competitions, the Sharks more than held their own, scoring a convincing four tries to one win in the Ball trial while going down to Newcastle in the other two matches.
In an encouraging sign for the future, both the under 16's and under 18's Academy Sharks notched impressive victories over the Knights in their trials conducted at the Academy Fields at Cronulla High School.
In the Matthews Cup, the Sharks would have learnt some harsh lessons from their game against Newcastle, poor ball control and a lack of discipline meant they were forced to do a lot of defending in the first half in hot and steamy conditions.
The Knights scored twice in the opening period before a Cronulla four-pointer on the stroke of half time, on the back of a line break from winger Kurt Montgomery and centre Noah Pentani, narrowed the margin to two tries to one.
Newcastle would score a fortuitous try from a kick charge down early in the second period and when they crossed for two more, looked likely to run away with the game.
To their credit the under-17 Matthews Sharks battled on, a late try from close range seeing the final margin read 5 tries to the Knight and 2 to the Cronulla side.
The Ball match it was almost a carbon copy of the first game, with the difference being the Sharks were the team controlling field position and possession.
Hooker Kobie Wilson would dash out of dummy half to score the Sharks first, Jordon Samrani touched down for the second in chasing a clever Ryan Rivett kick, then fullback Kade Dykes managed to get on the score sheet twice with two tries before the half time break.
With both coaches making multiple changes the second period became a little messy, the only points coming to the Knights when a chip kick from near to the line bounced in their favour, the final score 4 tries to 1 to the Sharks in what was a fair indication of the difference between the two teams.
The Tarsha Gale trial saw a young and inexperienced Sharks team come up against a strong Knights outfit and while their effort couldn't be faulted, the superior execution from the Newcastle squad proved the difference.
The Knights would score five tries to one on the day, leaving the Sharks with some work to do before the start of the season proper.
In the Academy games the 16's would register a hard-fought two tries to one win, while the 18's were especially impressive, running in seven tries as opposed to just the one from the Knights.
The Sharks junior rep teams are in action in round one matches on February 6, all three playing the Raiders at Belconnen, with Tarsha Gale at 12 noon, the Matthews Cup at 1.30pm and the SG Ball match at 3.00pm.