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The Sydney Roosters escaped with a 36-28 win after a very spirited second half performance from the Cronulla sharks.
The Sharks found themselves on the back foot for most of the first half. In the space of 10 minutes the Roosters scored three consecutive tries and eventually led 18-4 at the break.
With two more tries added early in the second half, the Roosters felt very comfortable. So much so that Ricky Stuart decided to bring Brad Fittler to the sideline with the intention of resting the skipper for the rest of the match.
It was to backfire on the Roosters coach. The Sharks ran in three quick tries to close in to within 8 points and send Sydney into panic mode by sending Brad Fittler back onto the field.
The change did the trick as Fittler sent debutant Ben Wellington over to score and rap up the match. It was a contest that the Roosters always should?ve won but the Sharks will be proud of their strong showing in the second forty.
LeagueUnlimited?s Player of the Year Awards: 3 ? C Flannery (Roosters) 2 ? B Fittler (Roosters) 1 ? D Nutley (Sharks)
Saturday 9th August 2003 5:30PM Aussie Stadium Referee: S Clark Video Referee: M Lewis
Scorers: ROOSTERS 36 Tries: 2 Flannery, Walker, Finch, Cross, Fittler, Wellington Goals: Crocker 1/3, Fittler 0/1, Walker 3/3 SHARKS 28 Tries: Hilder, Rieck, Anderson, Bird, Peachey Goals: Anderson 5/5
By the clock: 0 min: Kickoff!
5th min: NEWS - The Roosters have been given plenty of chances in the opening minutes. They haven't been able to crack the Sharks line though, bombing a try with a forward pass.
11th min: NEWS - The penalties are coming thick and fast with the count already at 3-2 in Cronulla's favour.
14th min: TRY - Roosters. Minichiello drew in several defenders and offloaded to Flannery who shrugged off Paul Gallon to score. Crocker fails to convert - Roosters 4-0.
18th min: TRY - Roosters. Minichiello threw a beautiful cut out ball that sent Chris Walker over in the corner. Crocker fails to convert - Roosters 8-0.
21st min: TRY - Roosters. Brett Finch walked through a big hole in the Sharks line and strolled over for a very soft try. Crocker converts - Roosters 14-0.
26th min: NEWS - The Sharks have barely touched the ball in the last 10 minutes. That amount of work will come back to hurt them later in the game.
29th min: NEWS - The Roosters have had 68% of the possession compared to the Sharks who have only had 32%.
35th min: TRY - Roosters. The Roosters opted to go down the short side and a simple draw and pass play from Chris Walker gave Ryan Cross an easy path to the line. Fittler fails to convert - Roosters 18-0.
39th min: TRY - Sharks. Cronulla won a scrum against the feed and a couple of plays later Matt Hilder went through a big hole and ran 40 metres to score. The video referee was asked to check on obstruction and the groundings but saw no problems, awarding the try. Anderson fails to convert - Roosters 18-4.
Halftime: The Sharks aren't playing badly but the game slipped away from them in a 10 minute period. They have a tough second half ahead of them. Halftime Score - Roosters 18-4.
41st min: The second half is underway!
45th min: NEWS - Just like the first half, the Sharks have given the Roosters plenty of chances early on.
50th min: TRY - Roosters. Finch made a break and offloaded to Fittler who strolled 30 metres to score a very slick try for the Roosters. Chris Walker converts - Roosters 24-4.
52nd min: NEWS - Crocker has a sternum injury and is unlikely to be back for the rest of the match.
54th min: TRY - Roosters. Flannery broke through the line and stepped past peachey to score a very impressive solo try. Chris Walker converts - Roosters 30-4.
58th min: NEWS - With a big lead Ricky Stuart has opted to take off Brad Fittler, replacing him with Wellington.
62nd min: TRY - Sharks. Kent made a big run before getting it onto Rieck who scored. Todd Byrne ran into Steven Clarke but the video referee didn't think it was interference. Anderson converts - Roosters 30-10.
66th min: TRY - Sharks. The Sharks made another break before Anderson sold Minichiello a dummy and went in under the posts. Anderson converts - Roosters 30-16.
69th min: TRY - Sharks. The Sharks spread it out wide before it came inside to Bird who scored. Anderson converts - Roosters 30-22.
70th min: NEWS - Ricky Stuart has reacted to the Sharks onslaught and sent Brad Fittler back out onto the field.
76th min: TRY - Roosters. Ben Wellington runs onto a cut out ball from Brad Fittler and scores on his debut, rapping up the match for the Roosters. Chris Walker converts - Roosters 36-22.
79th min: TRY - Sharks. David Peachey stepped his way over the line for a consulation try. Anderson converts - Roosters 36-28.
Fulltime: The Roosters have rapped this one up but the Sharks made a great comeback giving Ricky Stuart some very nervous moments. Fulltime Score - Roosters 36-28.