Round 1 - Full Time :: Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 18 defeated Penrith Panthers 0 Venue: Toyota Park
The Cronulla Sharks have ended a 10 match losing streak with an emphatic 18-0 victory over a listless Penrith Panthers tonight.
It was the Sharks who found themselves running into a stiff home town breeze in the first half following a drenching downpour in the afternoon, but they handled the conditions better than their western counterparts.
Penrith had the first opportunity to put points in the board when a Michael Gordon penalty shot hit the uprights. It was as close as the Panthers would get to troubling the scoreboard attendants.
Utility back Brett Kearney stamped his authority on the match in the 13th minute when he ran through a huge gap to open the scoring.
At half time, the Panthers were unable to take advantage of the prevailing conditions and the Sharks found themselves 6-0 in front.
The home side went further ahead just after break following a Luke Covell penalty goal. Covell repeated the dose 15 minutes later and with 20 minutes remaining, the Sharks held a handy 10-0 lead.
Kearney bagged a double in the 69th minute before Covell ran onto clever kick from lock Greg Bird just before full time, the Sharks posting a three tries to nil victory.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks (18 ) Tries: Brett Kearney (2), Luke Covell Goals: Luke Covell (3/5) Penrith Panthers (0)
Referee: Jared Maxwell
League Unlimited Commentary:
Rain has been falling this afternoon in the Shire. New players, two new coaches for the Sharks and the Panthers, and a reasonable crowd on hand despite the slippery conditions.
0 min: Panthers kick off with a strong breeze at their backs.
13 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks Brett Kearney scores after running through a huge gap. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell successful. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 6-0
14 min: From the restart, Panthers kick out on the full!
23 min: Sharks pressing the line and come close when a Kimmorley offload to Kearney goes forward. Panthers camped in their own half and offering little with the wind at their backs.
27 min: Sharks penalised for a sloppy play-the-ball deep in their own half. Panthers on the attack now and get a repeat set...
30 min: Good defence from the Sharks, they regain possession and work it out from their own 10m zone.
32 min: Panthers with another attacking raid close to the line and again the Sharks hold firm.
Half time: Sharks 6-0 An intense first half with the Sharks looking the more likely of the two. Brett Kimmorley dominating in the halves.
Second half underway...
41 min: A miscommunication and awkward bounce sees the ball get the better of the Panthers from the kick off. Sharks to get possession in good position from the line drop out.
42 min: PENALTY GOAL Cronulla Sutherland Sharks Panthers penalised in the tackle. Covell slots a penalty goal from almost in front. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 8-0
46 min: Panthers penalty but Craig Gower's kick fails to find touch! In the next ruck, the Sharks get a penalty and the game is again being played down Penrith's end of the field.
51 min: Panthers now getting repeat sets at the Sharks line. The home side forced into two consecutive line drop outs.
56 min: PENALTY GOAL Cronulla Sutherland Sharks Covell has no trouble from almost in front. Sharks go further ahead. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 10-0
63 min: Sharks make a bust down the left flank with Luke Covell into space! Brett Kearney looms up in support on the inside but Covell opts to take on the fullback Rhys Wesser himself. Wesser hits Covell with a tremendous try-saving tackle.
In the play-the-ball the Panthers are penalised for what should be a professional foul. Sharks unable to capitalise and the Panthers are off the hook.
69 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks Brett Kearney is second receiver from the middlle of the ruck and shows a great turn of pace to run through the gap, scoring 15m in from touch. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell unsuccessful. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 14-0
79 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks Covell scores out wide, diving on the ball after Greg Bird kicked ahead from 20m out. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell unsuccessful. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 18-0
80 min: FULL TIME: Sharks 18-0 The Sharks have broken a 10 match losing streak and started the 2007 NRL season on a winning note. Sharks played to the conditions well. The rain abated before kickoff, but a downpour in the afternoon would have made it slippery. Polished performance from the Sharks and their overall timing was good in scoring three tries to nil. Kearney and Kimmorley the best of the backs while all the forwards put in a five star performance. The Panthers however were disappointing, lacking any real penetration in attack - their scoreline being a fair reflection of the way they played.
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Brett Kearney 2 Points: Brett Kimmorley 1 Point: Greg Bird