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So close for Sharks in round one loss

They sent the final play to the video referee, with Matt Ikavalu held up over the line, as the Sharks fell just short in going down by 24-19 to the Raiders in a thrilling round one clash in Canberra.

The Sharks trailed early, fought back and took a one point lead late in the contest, then gave up their advantage with three minutes to go, before being denied a potential match winner 10 second from full time.

After being outplayed in the first half it was a commendable effort from a Sharks side, who with their coach Craig Fitzgibbon watching from home due to Covid quarantine, fought back then came so close to claiming the two premiership points.

The Sharks began slowly and were forced to defend four sets of six on their line however after turning the Raiders away they would give up points shortly after, Jack Wighton making a break down the Sharks right before backing up to receive the last pass to touch down.

Rookie half back Brad Schneider added the extras and the home team led 6-0 after the opening 10 minutes.

The Sharks early troubles continued, a dubious penalty against Teig Wilton for a high tackle shortly after seeing the Raiders go on the attack again and it was centre Semi Valemei crashing over out wide.

Schneider converted from near touch and the Raiders would take a 12-0 lead.

Finally earning some field position the Sharks struck back, hooker Blayke Brailey cleverly slicing through untouched off the back of a scrum win and after the Nicho Hynes conversion the scoreboard was looking a touch healthier as the Cronulla team trailed by just six at the 22 minute mark of the match.

Canberra however continued to dominate field position and on the stroke of half time would extend their advantage, a cross field kick claimed by fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad then planted down adjacent to the uprights.

Schneider was on target with his kick and the Sharks trailed 18-6 after a 40 minutes where they were forced to defend grimly after having just 33 per cent of the ball.

The Sharks emerged from the sheds with plenty of energy and after enjoying some back-to-back possession of their own, camped on their opponents line. It took three sets of six but the Cronulla side would edge closer when a right side shift of the ball saw Will Kennedy slice through.

Hynes kicked the goal to make it 18-12, then a Raiders error shortly after gifted the Sharks position and once again they made their opponents pay.

Matt Moyan and Hynes linked up and found Wilton with a short ball, the young backrower crossing for the Sharks third of the night and following the Hynes conversion from 10 metres in from touch, the scores were all tied up at 18-apiece.

The next 10 to 15 minutes turned into an arm wrestle with neither team able to break the deadlock, until a Moylan field goal in the 73rd minute gave the Sharks their first lead of the night.

With their tails up, the Sharks pressed but when penalised for a kick indiscretion the Raiders saw a chance to take the points, and it was an opportunity they grasped, Hudson Young backing up Wighton to score the match winner.

It was a disappointing finish after a spirted Sharks comeback, with the Cronulla side now needing to get back to work in preparation for their home opener against the Eels next Saturday.

For the Sharks Brailey was dangerous out of dummy half and tackled himself to a standstill, while Wilton led the way on the edge with an energetic performance in both defence and attack.

The Hynes-Moylan combination in the halves had its moments, and when considering this was their first outing together can only get better, stand-in skipper Dale Finucane worked hard in the middle of the field making 45 tackles with no misses and Siosifa Talakai added energy to his teams’ attack when injected into the contest.

SHARKS 19
Blayke Brailey, Will Kennedy, Teig Wilton tries, Nicho Hynes 3 goals, Matt Moylan field goal
lost to
RAIDERS 24
Jack Wighton, Semi Valemei, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Hudson Young tries, Brad Schneider 4 goals

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.