The under-19 SG Ball Sharks were unable to hold off a confident Illawarra Steelers side in the second half of their round one match in slipping to a disappointing 28-16 defeat.
The first period was evenly matched, a Steelers try on the stroke of half time giving the visitors a narrow 8-4 lead, but it was mostly one way traffic after the break, too many errors from the Sharks ultimately deciding their fate.
“I was happy with the effort, the boys competed, but we were sloppy with our execution. Our skill needs to be better,” Sharks coach Dave Howlett said. “We’ll dust ourselves off, get back to training and work hard.”
Following an early Steelers try, the first 35 mins was something of an arm wrestle, with a try to left winger Te Wehi Waitere leveling the scores.
Illawarra would cross on the final play of the first half and then make it 10-4 with a penalty goal in the early moments of the second.
Possession swung back the way of the Sharks and when hooker Kobie Wilson dived over from dummy half, the try converted by five eighth Jake Hay, with the wind at their back the Sharks were back level and on the front foot.
A smart long-range effort from the Steelers pushed their advantage out to six points with a try under the posts and shifted the momentum in their favour once again, before the play that probably sealed the result, when a Sharks error while attacking their opponents line was returned 80-metres for an Illawarra try.
At 22-10 with time running out the Sharks had it all to do, their job becoming even harder when the Steelers scored out wide, then added the extra two in taking the score out to 28-10.
A consolation try to the Sharks, the second of the day to Waitere, then a sideline Hay conversion, completed the scoring.
The SG Ball Sharks travel to Penrith to play a round two match next Saturday.
Te Wahi Waitere 2, Kobie Wilson tries, Jake Hay 2 goals