Sharks fullback Ben Barba scored two tries against the Raiders in Round 7.

Sharks extended winning run

The Sharks have made it four wins on the trot and cemented their position in the top four with a spirited 40-16 victory over the Raiders at GIO Stadium.

 


After getting out to a 12-point lead early the Sharks relied on some amazing defence to keep their opponents scoreless for most of the match, before kicking on late to earn their deserved 24-point winning margin. 

And while the Raiders eventually found form to put a few tries on the scoreboard, the Sharks ended up prevailing comfortably, the big deficit a fair indication of the gulf in class between the two teams on the day. 

The home side certainly missed the attacking prowess of Blake Austin in the halves, as well as the grit and leadership of Sia Soliola in the forwards. 

Their second straight big loss leaves them on the edge of the top eight after starting the season with some amazing form.

The Sharks were first on the board, scoring after a smart kick in behind the line from Michael Ennis found Ben Barba racing through.

They'd be in again in the 18th minute thanks to a powerful effort close to the line from Jack Bird, who extended the Sharks’ lead by barging over Jarrod Croker on the right edge.

Meanwhile, the Raiders were struggling to complete sets, and having an even more difficult time trying to get the ball across the stripe.

They completed at less the 60 percent through the first half but slowly managed to get themselves back in the game thanks to eight penalties from the Sharks.

However the improved possession wouldn't be enough to get the Green Machine back on the scoreboard, eventually heading into half-time 12-nil down. 

And just as the Raiders looked like gaining the ascendancy the Sharks came out and immediately put another try on to start the second half. 

Once again the Canberra defensive line lacked urgency, sitting back on their heels and allowing Jayson Bukuya to plough over from short distance. 

Just moments later Barba would make the task even more difficult for the Raiders as he got on the outside of a sliding Raiders defence thanks to his incredible acceleration.

But just as the game seemed to have slipped away from the home team they gave themselves a sniff with a classy short side movement leading to their first points of the match. 

Kurt Baptiste both initiated and finished the movement, making the score 24-4 with 25 minutes remaining. 

Just two minutes later the Raiders gave their fans even more hope of an unlikely comeback, scoring this time off a quick 20-metre restart.

Jordan Rapana showed blistering speed to race 70 metres to score after Joey Leilua smartly tapped quickly and set up his wing partner into a huge gap.

However their comeback attempts would be nipped in the bud after a huge Sharks counterattack ended with Valentine Holmes crossing in the corner, following a 60-metre run from James Maloney. 

Late tries to Aidan Sezer, Matt Prior and Maloney gave the game its final 40-16 point scoreline. 

Cronulla Sharks 40 (Barba 2, Bird, Bukuya, Holmes, Maloney tries; Maloney 6 goals) defeated Canberra Raiders 16 (Baptiste, Rapana, Sezer; Croker 2 goals) at GIO Stadium. Crowd: 12,890.