The Cronulla Sharks have recorded their first win of 2014, defeating the New Zealand Warriors in emphatic style, 37-6, in front of a crowd of 11,307 at Remondis Stadium.
In what can only be described as a good old fashioned thrashing, the Sharks ran in seven tries, highlighted by a four try exhibition by Sharks winger Nathan Stapleton, before the Warriors scored late to deny the Sharks a clean sheet.
The first ten minutes set the tone for what would come for the rest of the match. Two unforced errors from the Warriors as well as two cheap penalties ensured that the Sharks had all the early possession. The early Sharks dominance culminated in Nathan Stapleton scoring the first try of the match in the corner after taking a long cut out pass from Todd Carney to make the score 4-0.
The Warriors continued to give away penalties in dangerous positions leading to a Tinirau Arona try in the 16th minute. When Sam Tagataese went over in the 23rd minute to make the score 16-0, the signs were looking extremely ominous for a Warriors side that looked disinterested at times during the match. In fact, the Warriors first real chance on the Sharks line didn't end up coming until the 38th minute.
If there was any argument that the first half wasn't one way traffic, there was no denying that the second was a complete and utter mauling. The Warriors had no answers to the Sharks attack as they opened their second half account with a Nathan Stapleton try in the 46th minute. Tries to Blake Ayshford in the 52nd minute, as well as a third and fourth try to Nathan Stapleton in the 57th and 70th minutes, ensured the Sharks would get the two points. Todd Carney capped off the win with a 69th minute field goal to complete the 31 point victory.
Manu Vatuvei did finally get over for a Warriors consolation try in the last minute of the game but it would make no difference given their inept performance at Remondis Stadium this afternoon. The only shining light for the Warriors was an epic defensive display from Nathan Friend who made 65 tackles during the match.
The Sharks will gain a lot of much needed confidence from their performance this afternoon, and with their leader Paul Gallen still to return, the Cronulla faithful will have reason to still be confident for a good showing over the rest of the season. The Warriors on the other hand will head home wondering what went wrong and needing to find a way to turn it around before a match up with the in-form Canterbury Bulldogs next Sunday at Eden Park.