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Balmain Jersey Flegg defeated Cronulla 28-6 in a strong display at Leichhardt Oval this afternoon.
The opening minutes of the match saw both teams struggle to get on top of each other while committing the sort of silly errors you would expect this early in the season. Balmain were the first to cross the line in the 18th minute when halfback Mark Russell stepped past the Cronulla defence and darted over to score before his try was converted by fullback Ben Jeffrey.
Cronulla leveled the scores one minute from halftime when Tu?u Maori dived on a kick to score out wide, his try was converted from the sideline by Quincy To?o.
Shortly after half-time Balmain were boosted by the return to the field of their starting front row - props Moa and Cameron and hooker Rangi Chase. It wasn?t long before these players started to make a real impact and in the 50th minute a barnstorming run from Moa saw Chase get the ball from dummy half, step past the marker before kicking and chasing to score out wide. Jeffrey converted from the sideline giving Balmain a 12-6 lead. Chase scored again just five minutes later when he stepped past the Cronulla defence and dived over the try line and Jeffery again converted from out wide.
Minutes later winger Chance Bunce scored after 5/8th Dean Caldwell chipped the ball over the first line of defence and Jeffrey collected on the first bounce and ran 25m before passing to Bunce. Jeffrey then converted to bring the scores to 28-6
Balmain topped off a terrific effort with a beautiful individual try right on fulltime when Bunce collected the ball from a kick about 60m out and beat several defenders to run across field and eventually score in the opposite corner. Jeffrey missed the final conversion and the tigers ran out with a much deserved 28-6 win.
Best for Balmain were prop Sam Moa, Hooker Rangi Chase and Fullback Ben Jeffrey while Ewen Cameron, Backrower Mitch Stanfield and winger Bunce were also strong. While Cronulla halfback Quincy To?o and hooker Craig Priestly both looked good in a Sharks team that still appeared dangerous despite the score against them.