It was a stirring victory as the SG Ball Sharks came from behind to beat the Bulldogs 28-26 in their last round match played at the Sharks Academy Field at Cronulla High School.
The Sharks showed plenty of fighting spirit in battling back to dominate periods of the second half as they built an eight-point advantage, before giving up a late try to win by just two.
However, despite the win their celebrations were short-lived when the final SG Ball competition table saw them come up agonizingly short of a place in next week’s Finals series.
Needing to win by five points or more to climb over the Bulldogs, the late try by their opponents resulted in heartbreak for a Sharks side which had the ability to cause plenty of trouble for the leading teams had they have snuck into the Finals, as they wound up just two for-and-against points shy of sixth position.
The premature end was a frustrating one for the under-19 Sharks who found form late in the year after a slow start to their season.
With the rain staying away and on a remarkably dry surface at Cronulla High the teams went to half time with the scores locked up at 8-all, the Sharks tries coming to outside backs Ben Lavender and Kristian Dixon.
The Bulldogs would then assume control early in the second half, jumping out to an 18-8 advantage, before a desperate Sharks side found another gear, a try to talented young back rower Lawson Cotter, followed by a long-range effort from Carl Bishop, both tries converted by Jake Hay, and the Sharks had their first lead of the afternoon at 20-18.
When hard-working prop Lachlan Crounch crashed over under the uprights, the try converted by Hay, with only five minutes of the match remaining the Sharks looked to have done enough to qualify for the Finals, before the late 80-metre effort from the Bulldogs eventually sealed their fate.
But just when is seemed all hope was lost, in an exciting finish Sharks winger Dixon pounced on a Bulldogs kick after the fulltime siren and began streaking away down the western touchline, only to be reeled in by the cover defense, with the try-line, and a place in the Finals, so close but yet so far.
A number of the Sharks SG Ball squad will now push up to train on with the under-21 Jersey Flegg side for the remainder of the 2022 season.
Kristian Dixon, Carl Bishop, Lachlan Crouch, Ben Lavender, Lawson Cotter tries, Jake Hay 3 goals