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The Sharks launched their 2024 season in style with a courageous comeback to down the Warriors 16-12 at Go Media Stadium on Friday night.

The Sharks headed to Auckland having lost their opening round game in nine of the past 10 seasons but after conceding two early tries they dug deep to keep the Warriors scoreless for the next 67 minutes.

A six-again call against Cam McInnes for a ruck infringement in the eighth minute put the Sharks on the back foot and they were unable to stem the tide when Addin Fonua-Blake powered over from close range. Shaun Johnson converted for a 6-0 Warriors lead.

Come the 13th minute and it was Warriors five-eighth Luke Metcalf who embarrassed the Sharks defence with some fancy footwork and the home side had doubled their advantage. 

A superb trysaving tackle by Will Kennedy on Jackson Ford denied the Warriors a a third try soon after but a penalty against Ronaldo Mulitalo for a mid-air tackle on Dallin Watene-Zelezniak on the next play kept the heat on the visitors.

Addin Fonua-Blake Try

Both teams then traded errors before Siosifa Talakai looked like opening Cronulla's account before his opposing centre Rocco Berry produced a trysaver to keep the Warriors' line intact.

With five minutes remaining in the first term the Sharks struck back when Jesse Ramien burrowed over from dummy half and Braydon Trindall converted to make it 12-6.

The Sharks carried that momentum into the second half with prolific tryscorer Ronaldo Mulitalo crossing in the left corner in the 42nd minute to cut the margin to two points.

Jesse Ramien Try

A mistake in the play-the-ball by Dale Finucane in the 54th minute gave the Warriors field position and they earned six more tackles through a neat Shaun Johnson grubber but the Sharks deployed the short dropout and got possession back.

That play proved critical as the Sharks went to the other end of the field and took the lead through a try to Talakai, who handled twice in a movement that also featured Nicho Hynes and Mulitalo.

Trailing 16-12 the Warriors lost hooker Wayde Egan to an elbow injury but managed to hang tough until the 76th minute when a mistake by Oregon Kaufusi gave them a golden opportunity to attack and Johnson earned them a repeat set with a grubber.

From there the Sharks continued to stand tall in defence and kept the Warriors at bay to come away with a morale-boosting victory.

Match Snapshot

  • Sharks five-eighth Braydon Trindall was placed on report in the third minute for a dangerous tackle.
  • Warriors prop Addin Fonua-Blake has now scored five tries in his last 10 NRL matches.
  • The Warriors had 70 per cent of possession in the opening 20 minutes and completed 13 of 14 sets.
  • Veteran forwards Addin Fonua-Blake and Tohu Harris combined for 37 runs and 324 metres.
  • Warriors fullback Taine Tuaupiki left the field for a HIA in the 33rd minute after copping an accidental knee from teammate Rocco Berry. He passed and was able to return to the game.

Luke Metcalf Try

  • A crowd of 24,076 was on hand at Go Media Stadium for the Warriors' season opener.
  • Tom Hazelton gave the Sharks huge impetus from the bench with 131 metres from 13 runs in 41 minutes of game time.
  • Sharks winger Ronaldo Mulitalo had four tackle breaks, 146 run metres and grabbed a try in an impressive display.
  • Sharks forwards Jack Williams made his 100th NRL appearance.
  • The Sharks had only 47 per cent of the ball.
  • Young Warriors fullback Taine Tuaupiki had seven tackle breaks and ran for 193 metres.

Marcelo Montoya stops Katoa in his tracks

Play of the Game 

It may not have led to a try but Addin Fonua-Blake's rampaging 30-metre run in the 51st minute had the Wahs faithful out of their seats and screaming louder than they had since their heroes took the field. After starting the game with a trademark try in the eighth minute, AFB racked up a stack of metres and tackle breaks as he tormented the Sharks defence all night. 

Addin Fonua-Blake on the loose!

What They Said

“Discipline for sure [was where it went wrong]. Our first 20 mins was outstanding, our style of play, what we were doing… we invited them back into the game and I felt like the period after half-time was really poor, our defence, our ruck control, just wasn’t good enough.” – Warriors coach Andrew Webster. 

Warriors: Round 1

"Not much went our way, we had to fight for everything. Really proud of the boys’ efforts, we capitalised on all the hard work we've done this pre-season. We can certainly play some better footy than we did tonight, but also the grit, perseverance and turning up for each other... really proud of that effort." – Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon.

Sharks: Round 1

What's Next

The Warriors head across the Tasman in Round 2 to take on the Storm at AAMI Park while the Sharks host the Bulldogs on Friday night.

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.

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