Warriors hold on for thrilling Holden Cup win
The Warriors have survived a monumental Cronulla comeback to hold on for an enthralling 36-32 win in the Holden Cup.
The game looked over at half-time with the Warriors comfortably in front 30-6, but four tries in quick succession after the break had Sharks fans dreaming of their second impossible fightback of the 2016 NYC season.
Lewis Soosemea's second try of the afternoon with eight minutes remaining opened up an important eight-point cushion before the Sharks pegged one back to set up a tense final few minutes.
The result keeps the Warriors in sight of the top eight while the Sharks missed out an opportunity to return to the top four.
It took just seven minutes for the Sharks to open the scoring with fullback Will Kennedy gathering a raking infield grubber from Rhys Davies to score under the posts.
An error from the resulting kick-off put the Warriors straight onto the attack and they made the hosts pay with Joseph Price crashing onto a short ball from Nathaniel Roache to level the scores.
The high-scoring opening quarter continued with Warriors fullback Kane Telea slicing through some brittle goal-line defence before Matt Faitotoa strolled over to make it 18-6 after 22 minutes.
The carnage continued from the following set with Telea backing up a big break by Erin Clark to continue the scoring spree before Soosemea raced 80 metres to complete the first-half onslaught.
The second half started much the same as the first with Jayden Brailey turning Lachlan Stein under to end the Sharks' scoring drought.
Whatever Sharks coach John Morris said at the break must have clicked as the hosts ran in another try moments later through Semisi Vea to narrow the margin to 14 points with half an hour left on the clock.
If the Warriors were worried before that try then they would have been in panic mode when Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga fell over the line after a huge break by Kennedy from the previous play to make it 30-22.
The ground announcer had barely sat down when he was called into action for yet another Cronulla try as Stein flicked an offload for Josh Tuilagi to score from the very next set.
It seemed only a matter of time until the Sharks took the lead but after a 15-minute scoring lull it was the Warriors who scored next; Soosemea turning defence into attack to open up an eight-point lead.
It would prove to be a crucial try as Tuilagi spectacularly touched down with four minutes left to cut the deficit to four points.
Warriors 36 (Kane Telea, Lewis Soosemea 2; Joseph Price, Matt Faitotoa tries; Kane Telea 6 goals) defeated Sharks 32 (Josh Tuilagi 2, Will Kennedy, Lachlan Stein, Semisi Vea, Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga tries; Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga 4 goals) at Southern Cross Group Stadium. Half-time: Warriors 30-6.