The 2018 #NRL Pre-Season is just about locked in.
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The Jersey Flegg Sharks are now just one win away from a Grand Final appearance after defeating the Wests Magpies in their first round finals match on Saturday at Toyota Park.
The Aaron Raper coached under-20 Sharks performed strongly in the second half, running away with a 32-20 victory.
In finishing second on the Flegg ladder after the 26-round regular season, the Sharks now go straight through to the preliminary final in two weeks time. A win in that match against a yet to be determined opponent, would see the Sharks in the Grand Final for the second consecutive year.
With a fired up Magpies outfit fighting for their survival, the opening exchanges were willing, with neither side managing to gain the upper hand.
After a Ben Green penalty goal had opened the scoring, it was the Sharks who would cross for the first try of the afternoon in the 15th minute of the match. Winger Matt Trouville eluded the cover defence and dived over out wide following some good lead-up work from Green and Dimitri Pelo. The conversion from Green put the Sharks out to an 8-0 lead.
The Sharks continued to press and when hooker Nick Doig raced through a yawning gap in the opposition defensive line, before finding Pelo in support, the Sharks would extend their lead to 14 points.
A desperate Magpies however refused to give in, dominating the next period of the game. The Wests side crossed for three tries and in no time at all had locked the scores up at 14-all.
However when young centre Matt Raftery, on the end of some good backline play from the Sharks, crashed over out wide, with Bryson Goodwin slotting over the extra two points, the Sharks go to the break ahead by 20-14.
It took 15 minutes of the second half for the score to change, with halfback Green slicing through to score a solo try. With the conversion successful the Sharks would lead by 12.
If the Green try would tilt the match heavily in the Sharks favour, a Goodwin four-pointer with only 15 minutes of the match remaining, would almost seal the result, with the Sharks now up by 32-14.
A consolation Wests try late in the match made the margin closer but the Sharks would hold on for a convincing 32-20 win.
The Flegg Sharks had a number of outstanding performers, with captain and halfback Green amongst the best players on the field. Pelo was hard to handle out on the wing, in the forwards front rowers Luke Douglas and Jeremy Latimore were strong, while James Bannister made plenty of impact coming into the match off the interchange bench.
The Sharks will now await for other results before knowing their Preliminary Finals opponents in two weeks.
SHARKS 32 Bryson Goodwin, Matt Trouville, Matt Raftery, Dimitri Pelo, Ben Green tries, Green 4, Goodwin 2 goals.
WESTS MAGPIES 20 Shannon McDonnell, Teason Fa?avae-Eli, Brendan Waters, Kerry Smith tries, Waters 2 goals.