Sharks pip Dragons in Holden Cup
The Sharks have overturned a 10 point second-half deficit to edge local rivals the Dragons 26-24 at Southern Cross Group Stadium in a Holden Cup thriller.
Three tries in the space of seven minutes down the left flank in the final quarter of the game sealed the result, despite a hat-trick to Dragons winger Reuben Garrick.
The match couldn't have started any worse for the Dragons, with the kick-off sailing over the dead ball line. Four plays later, a quick shift through the hands sent right winger Semisi Vea over for the opening points of the afternoon.
A dropped bomb, followed by another penalty meant the Dragons went six minutes without the ball.
Thankfully for fans of the Red V, their defence held strong, and a penalty of their own quickly changed the momentum of the local derby.
After bagging a double in the Round 1 loss to the Storm, left winger Reuben Garrick continued his try-scoring heroics, crossing twice in the space of six minutes to give his side the lead.
The first came on the back of a long ball from fullback Matt Dufty, while the second was thanks to a pinpoint kick from halfback Jack Payne on the last tackle that caught Vea slightly out of position.
After having their line breached twice, the Cronulla defence responded immediately, holding out the visitors for four straight sets on their own line.
After forcing an error and then receiving a penalty, the hosts quickly took back the lead through lock forward Jayden McDonogh's second try in as many weeks.
The penalty-fest continued with the home side earning three on the trot. The weight of possession was too much for the Dragons' defence, with Jayden Brailey finding five-eighth Jack Williams out wide to score untouched in the corner.
The 14-8 half-time score didn't last long, with the Dragons scoring one minute into the second stanza through Patrick Herbert. The left centre timed his run perfectly to latch onto a bomb from Brady who was belted as he put the kick up.
Five minutes later and the visitors were in again, this time Topiese Taufa barging over from close range to give the Dragons a 20-14 lead.
The second-half procession continued from the ensuing set with Garrick taking his tally to five tries for the season with a simple finish on the left-edge.
Both defences looked to have settled until an offload from interchange forward Billy Magoulias sent left centre Lachlan Stein over with 15 minutes to play.
Stein turned provider two minutes later, with Sione Katoa diving over in the corner. Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga's sideline conversion cannoned into the upright to keep the margin at two.
Great pressure on Dufty forced an error from the Holden Cup veteran No.1, allowing the Sharks to score two plays later through Katoa again. For the third time in the match, the woodwork denied Aufaga-Toomaga from out wide.
A charge down by Brady with three minutes left gave the Dragons one last chance to win the game, and they looked to have scored through Luciano Leilua, only for the officials to rule he lost the ball over the line.
The win gives Cronulla back-to-back wins to start the season, while the Dragons are winless after two rounds.
Sharks 26 (Sione Katoa 2, Semisi Vea, Jayden McDonogh, Jack Williams, Lachlan Stein tries; Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga 1 goals) defeated Dragons 24 (Reuben Garrick 3, Patrick Herbert, Topiese Taufa tries; Paora Kemp 2 goals) at Southern Cross Group Stadium. Half-time: Sharks 14-8