Tigers hand Sharks their first NYC loss
A Veiru Mapesone masterclass lifted the Tigers to a 42-24 win over the previously unbeaten Sharks in the Holden Cup on Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers five-eighth played a starring role, setting up three tries, scoring one himself and nailing five goals in a performance that would have pleased his coach Willie Peters.
After overturning a 28-point half-time deficit on Easter Monday to stun the Storm, it looked like the Sharks would do something similar when they slashed a 20-point margin to 10 points midway through the second stanza.
But history wouldn't repeat at Campbelltown Stadium, with the Tigers holding on for a well-deserved 18-point win.
A short ball out of dummy-half from skipper Jayden Brailey helped Jayden McDonogh crash over from close range to give the Sharks an early lead.
But that's where the highlights stopped for the previously unbeaten Sharks. An error in their own half gave the Tigers field position, and the hosts made it count.
A big right-foot step from Cook Islands international Esan Masters proved too much for the sliding defence, with Mapesone's conversion levelling things up after 14 minutes.
It took just three minutes for the young Tigers to cross again. A towering kick was allowed to bounce, with Daniel Peck and Mapesone combining to put winger Obed Karwhin over out wide.
The decision to start Peck at rake continued to pay dividends moments later with the No.14 playing short to put co-captain Junior Tatola over under the posts.
The Sharks were lucky not to concede again when a try to Karwhin was correctly called back for obstruction.
They might have survived on that occasion, but it would only be a fleeting reprieve for Cronulla as a huge Luke Sharpe kick-return paved the way for Mapesone to set up Bayley Sironen for the Tigers' fourth try of the half.
That wouldn't be the end of the scoring procession, as a nifty left to right shift ended up in the hands of Samuel DeFiddes who crossed with the siren blaring in the background to give the Tigers a big 26-6 lead at the break.
Undeterred by the big half-time deficit, the Sharks swiftly got back into the contest with two tries in quick succession to have the home fans sweating.
The first was a fairly soft effort as a hit and spin from Justin Timu, before replacement halfback Will Kennedy pounced on his own grubber that hit the uprights to make it a 10-point game with 26 minutes to play.
Suddenly under the pump, the Tigers turned to DeFiddes to wrestle back the momentum. Pinned on their own line, the Tigers centre darted from dummy-half, racing 60 metres to get his side out of trouble.
From there the Tigers never looked back, scoring two tries in five minutes to effectively kill off the contest.
A wicked bounce from a Thomas Bartley landed perfectly in the arms of his halves partner Mapesone, before a break from Sironen was finished off by Peck backing up on the inside.
Ryan Cummins scored a consolation try for the Sharks, before Sironen crossed late to seal the emphatic win.
Tigers 42 (Sironen 2, Esan Masters, Obed Karwhin, Junior Tatola, Samuel DeFiddes, Veiru Mapesone, Daniel Peck tries; Veiru Mapesone 5 goals) defeated Sharks 24 (Jayden McDonogh, Justin Timu, Will Kennedy, Ryan Cummins tries; Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga 4 goals) at Campbelltown Stadium. Half-time: 26-6 Tigers