They started fast and finished resolutely in defending repeated sets on their own line, with everything in between of high quality as well as the Matthews Cup Sharks marched on with a big sudden death Finals victory.
The under 17 Sharks were dominant throughout in scoring five tries to one in a 28-4 win over the Parramatta Eels to set up a Grand Final qualifying clash with the Sydney Roosters next week.
“Very happy with the win,” coach Brad Kelly began. “I knew playing Parramatta was always going to be a massive challenge but I thought right from the start of the game the intent from our boys was obvious.
“We had a lot of momentum in the first half, but what was really pleasing was the second half when the tide swung a bit and their power game came into it a little bit more and our boys were able to withstand that onslaught. I was really proud of the defensive effort,” Kelly added.
An Eels error gifted the Sharks first points, Jayze Tuigamala taking advantage to open his team’s account and following the Chevy Stewart conversion it was 6-0 to the Cronulla side just two minutes into the match.
With their tails up the young Sharks continued to press and it didn’t take long for them to add to their lead, lock Alex Challenor, voted player’s player for his energetic performance, stepping through the middle of the ruck to post his team’s second try.
Stewart was again on target to make it 12-0 Sharks and despite having the better of the field position and possession the the Cronulla side was unable to add any first half points as the teams went to the break with the score unchanged.
Knowing the Eels would be have been on the end of a half time roasting and looking to fight their way back into the contest the Sharks withstood the early challenge and only three minutes into the half would extend their advantage, winger Richard Whalebone running onto a perfectly weighted long ball from Bryce Sait to score wide out.
Seeing their season slipping away the Eels struck back courtesy of a spectacular individual effort from centre Michael Gabrael to make the score 16-4, but that would be as close as the Parramatta side would get.
As coach Kelly explained the Sharks held firm as the Eels attempted to lift, with the result virtually sealed with a brilliant try to Jasper Catton who jumped high over his opposition to claim a cross field kick and plant the ball down.
The Stewart conversion pushed the score out to 22-4 with 12 minutes left on the clock and the Sharks were well in control.
Lachlan Araullo then crashed over with one his trademark tries from close range in breaking the spirit of the Eels and booking his team an appointment with the Roosters in the Grand Final qualifier.
In addition to the standout performance of Challenor, the Sharks were well served by Stewart who continued his outstanding season, outside backs Whalebone and Kurt Montgomery had arguably their best game of the year, getting through plenty of work in helping out their forwards, while the usual suspects in Araullo and Max McCarthy played tough in the middle, as they have all season, against a big and physical Eels pack.
The Sharks will now look to regroup and get ready to go again next weekend.
“We’ll just prepare the way we do every week and just rip in,” Kelly said.
Sharks Media will communicate next week’s match details when they become available.
Richard Whalebone, Lachlan Araullo, Alex Challenor, Jasper Catton, Jayze Tuigamala tries, Chevy Stewart 5 goals
Michael Gabrael try
Pics courtesy Steve Montgomery - ourfootyteam.com