Sharks to face Souths in Nines decider
The Cronulla Sharks have booked themselves an Auckland Nines final against the Rabbitohs with an impressive defensive display, downing the Roosters 10-4.
The Sharks bossed the early exchanges with positive running forcing the Roosters to mainly work it out of their end before a precision Mitch Pearce kick got things back up Cronulla's end. However a swinging arm from Dylan Napa, which left him on report, gave away a penalty that handed the advantage back.
Nu Brown was then forced off the field with a knee injury that will have Sharks fans holding their breath, and their attacking set came undone when they gifted an obstruction penalty, before Wade Graham was penalised for a high shot.
A late break from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck scattered the Sharks right before half-time. He chipped ahead for himself and was tackled without the ball but the Roosters weren't able to produce anything on the one remaining play after the penalty, as a lack of execution from both sides produced the first scoreless half of the tournament.
The Sharks kicked out on the full to start the second stanza before a clever Pearce grubber threatened to break the deadlock but the chasers couldn't ground it.
It was left to Sharks centre Blake Ayshford – a serious contender for tournament MVP – to do it himself, shrugging off several defenders at the line to burst through and slam the ball down for a 6-0 lead after nearly 12 minutes of play.
But the Roosters quickly hit back, with a James Maloney-earned drop-out and the fast feet of Tuivasa-Sheck getting it back to 6-4 when the Kiwi speedster danced through the defence.
With the clock winding down the Roosters started getting desperate but the Sharks' defence held firm, defusing several attacking raids before a brilliant long-range movement saw Sosaia Feki find space down the left touchline.
Although Tuivasa-Sheck tackled him as he reached the line the referee found no double movement in Feki's grounding, sealing the 10-4 win and setting up a Sharks Rabbitohs decider.