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Sharks score round one win and claim the Porter Cup

It has been eight years in the making, with the Sharks scoring their first round one victory since 2013 to take out the Monty Porter Cup and the all-important two competition points with a 32-18 victory over local rivals the St George Illawarra Dragons. 

The Sharks led throughout, with their defence especially noteworthy in holding the Dragons scoreless in a controlled first half, before they were forced to withstand a second half revival from their opponents to eventually secure the result. 

 

The first points of the 2021 season for the Sharks came after an awful blunder from Ben Hunt, with Josh Dugan diving on the ball in the in-goal after the Dragons skipper had failed to defuse a Chad Townsend grubber kick. 

Townsend added the extras and the Sharks were up 6-0 after the opening five minutes of the match. 

The next try came from just the Sharks second trip into an attacking zone and it came in similar circumstances, Will Kennedy dribbling the ball into the in-goal and again the Dragons failed to clean it up, the young Cronulla fullback pouncing on the ball for his teams second of the night. 

Townsend slotted the sideline conversion and the Sharks led 12-0 after 15 minutes. 

Some five minutes later the intensity lifted, a melee breaking out when Jesse Ramien caught Dragon Matt Dufty with a high shot, the Sharks centre being sent to the sin bin, however after an ineffective St George kick turned the ball over close to the line, the Cronulla side capitalised, marched down the field and added to their lead with a Townsend penalty goal. 

The Sharks weathered the storm for the 10 minutes they were down a man, had the better of the chances in the later period of the half, but would be unable to add to their total as the teams went to half time up by 14-0. 

After it had been the Dragons making the errors in the first half, it was the Sharks gifting their opponents points in the second, with confusion at the back seeing a Hunt kick bounce into the waiting arms of five eighth Adam Clune who ran 10 metres to score under the uprights. 

The conversion was successful in making it 14-6 Sharks, then soon after Matt Dufty, exploiting a gap up the middle of the ruck dashed 55 metres in a spectacular run to the try line. 

At 14-12 it was anyone’s game and what appeared to be a Sharks error saw Cody Ramsey dive over for what seemed to be a try to give his team its first lead of the night, however after closer examination from the video referee the try was waved away and the Cronulla side had dodged a bullet.

Taking advantage of the fortuitous call the Sharks would push their lead out to eight, the try coming from a kick, skipper Wade Graham batting the ball back to Moylan, who kicked again as Ronaldo Mulitalo gathered for an untouched run to the line. 

Townsend remained perfect with the boot to make it 20-12 to give the Sharks some breathing room. 

A Dufty error from a kick from the next set saw the Sharks put into play a slick scrum move, with the ball going through the hands to Mulitalo, who would pass back inside for Kennedy to slide across for his second four-pointer. 

The Townsend goal from the western sideline took the lead out to 14 points, the Sharks leading 26-12 as the clock ticked down to under 12 minutes. 

Another try from a kick, this time to the Dragons, narrowed the margin on the 74 minute mark, Mikale Ravalawa grounding the ball after the Sharks couldn't put a catch on it but Sharks fans and coach John Morris high up in the western grandstand need not have stressed, Aaron Woods, in his 50th Sharks game sealing the result with a try after a determined effort in the final minutes.

There was a lot to like about the Sharks performance, with Kennedy and Moylan especially dangerous out wide, Toby Rudolf worked tirelessly in the middle as did Woods, Braden-Hamlin Uele and Briton Nikora, while Graham delivered a typical captains knock. 

Also of note was the goal kicking of Townsend, who landed six from six in difficult conditions. 

The Sharks now have seven days to regroup and go again when they host the Canberra Raiders in a game to be played at Netrstrata Jubilee Stadium on Sunday. 

 

SHARKS 32
Will Kennedy 2, Aaron Woods, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Josh Dugan tries. Chad Townsend 6 goals
beat
DRAGONS 16