Sharks scuttle Raiders

The Cronulla Sharks have claimed equal top spot on the NRL ladder following a comprehensive 36-24 victory over the Canberra Raiders at a chilly Canberra Stadium tonight.

Trailing 12-0 after just 13 minutes of play, the Sharks came back to score three tries in eight minutes to snare an 18-12 lead at half time.

The visitors went further ahead in the 59th minute with centre David Simmons touching down following a tremendous kick on the run from half back Brett Kimmorley.

But the Raiders struck back two minutes later with forward Ryan Hinchcliffe crashing over to make it 24-18.

The Sharks however, were not to be denied, scoring two tries to one in the final 20 minutes to overpower an injury-ravaged Raiders outfit.

In what was a crucial turning point of the contest, skipper and lock Alan Tongue was forced off with rib cartilage damage after being hit hard in an off-the-ball incident by Sharks winger Misi Taulapapa in the 50th minute, an injury which will most likely see Tongue sidelined for 2-4 weeks.

After the match, Raiders coach Neil Henry launched into action with some scathing criticism of referee Sean Hampstead. Henry referred to Hampstead as being "way off the mark" as his side struggled to produce momentum at numerous times throughout the evening.

Henry saved a noticeable portion of his analysis for the Tongue-Taulapapa incident to ensure further scrutiny from the NRL Match Review Committee.

A highlight of the contest was a perfect kicking display from both sides with Sharks winger Luke Covell and Raiders half back Todd Carney combining to kick 10 goals from 10 attempts.

Match Details Cronulla Sharks 36 def Canberra Raiders 24 Round 16 - June 30th, 2008 7:00pm Venue: Canberra Stadium Referee: Sean Hampstead Half time: Sharks 18-12 Crowd: 9,136

Canberra Raiders 24 Tries: Todd Carney, Bronx Goodwin, Ryan Hinchcliffe, David Milne Goals: Todd Carney (4/4) Cronulla Sharks 36 Tries: Luke Covell (2), Isaac De Gois, Ben Ross, David Simmons, Ben Pomeroy Goals: Luke Covell (6/6) Player of the Match 3 Points: Ben Ross (Sharks) 2 Points: Brett Kimmorley (Sharks) 1 Point: Luke Covell (Sharks) Live Commentary
Touch Judges: Mohamad Fajajo, Luke Potter Video Referee: Graeme West

TEAMS RAIDERS 1. David Milne, 2. Justin Carney, 3. Colin Best, 4. Brett Kelly, 5. Bronx Goodwin, 6. Terry Campese, 7. Todd Carney, 8. Troy Thompson, 9. Glen Buttriss, 10. Dane Tilse, 11. Glen Turner, 12. Joe Picker, 13. Alan Tongue. Reserves: 14. Josh Miller, 15. Ryan Hinchcliffe, 16. Trevor Thurling, 17. Michael Weyman, 18. Ben Jones. (1 to be omitted). SHARKS 1. Mitch Brown, 2. Misi Taulapapa, 3. Ben Pomeroy, 4. David Simmons, 5. Luke Covell, 6. Brett Seymour, 7. Brett Kimmorley, 8. Ben Ross, 9. Isaac De Gois, 10. Danny Nutley, 11. Luke Douglas, 12. Fraser Anderson, 14. Paul Stephenson Reserves: 13. Blake Green, 15. Kade Snowden, 16. Bryan Norrie, 17. Terence Seu Seu

1 min: Raiders kick off and we're underway here in the Nation's capital tonight. Sharks with the first use of the football.

2 min: Only the third set of the night and the Sharks already making a mistake, in the form of a knock-on from Ben Pomeroy. The resulting set from the Raiders is defused by some strong Sharks defense.

4 min: Some exciting play from the Raiders, as Todd Carney makes a break through some brittle defence, however a lack of supporting players forces him to put in a grubber. Some great urgency by Mitch Brown manages to prevent the chasers from scoring.

8 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Todd Carney takes a one handed pass after forward Troy Thompson pops up a great offload close to the line. Conversion attempt by Todd Carney just wide of the posts is successful. Canberra Raiders 6-0

13 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Bronx Goodwin scores out wide, very close to touch and survives video ref scrutiny. sideline conversion attempt by Carney is a ripper. Canberra Raiders 12-0

16 min: 40/20 Todd Carney with a tremendous kick and the Raiders on the attack again.

20 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Luke Covell gets the nod for a try in the corner. Scored against the run of play. Beaut conversion by Covell from the sideline. Canberra Raiders 12-6

24 min: Possible TRY to Sharks. Video ref looking at possible ball strip on a Raiders player in the lead up. VERDICT....

24 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Isaac De Gois is the try scorer with the Sharks getting the benefit of the doubt from the video ref, the ball coming loose from a Raiders player following the attention of three Sharks defenders. De Gois was on hand to take the dregs and score 10m wide of the posts. Conversion attempt by Covell successful. 12 all

27 min: Light rain falling.

28 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Ben Ross crashes over as Raiders open up from close range. Follows a charge down with Kimmorley and Seymour combining in the next ruck. Conversion attempt by Covell in easy range and successful. Cronulla Sharks 18-12

30 min: Raiders kick out on the full from the restart!

32 min: Light rain turning into a downpour as Sharks get a repeat set at the Raiders' line.

35 min: More sets at the line but Raiders defend well, surviving a series of attacking raids.

38 min: NO TRY - Raiders denied with Justin Carney ruled to have knocked on. Sharks scrum.

Half time: Sharks 18-12 Sharks take a lead at the break with a three try blitz in the space of eight minutes after the Raiders appeared to be cruising early in the half. Possession close enough to evens with the Sharks just in front on the penalty count by 6-4. Some solid charges in both defence and attack and at times we've been treated to some classy attacking play from both sides wide of the ruck. The rain has eased for the time being. This match is up for grabs.

Second half is underway...

43 min: Raiders forward Joe Picker forced from the field with badly corked thigh.

49 min: Raiders' Ryan Hinchcliffe penalised for knees to the head.

50 min: Raiders casualty woes continue with more players injured including lock forward and skipper Alan Tongue who is forced off with a rib injury.

53 min: NO TRY - Raiders denied after Goodwin is ruled to have knocked-on and the ball going dead in-goal. Sharks get a 20m restart.

56 min: Raiders on a roll with forwards combining to make a bust up the middle. But it all comes to naught with the Sharks scrambling well and holding firm.

59 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks David Simmons scores a great try after falling on a kick from Brett Kimmorley who was in open space before putting the ball on the toe. Conversion attempt by Covell successful. Cronulla Sharks 24-12

61 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Hinchcliffe crashes through some soft defence to score under the posts. Conversion attempt by Todd Carney successful. Cronulla Sharks 24-18

65 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Covell gets the nod from the video ref and scores a miraculous try out wide, leaping high to a cross field kick and touching down next to the corner post. Conversion attempt by Covell successful. Cronulla Sharks 30-18

71 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Ben Pomeroy finishes a thrilling movement with passes being thrown with confidence down the left side. Kimmorley begins the movement with a grubber and regather from 40m out. Covell caps off an excellent night with with the boot with another sideline conversion. Cronulla Sharks 36-18

73 min: Sharks forward Ben Ross injured and limps off for an early shower.

77 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Raiders fullback David Milne crashes over out wide. Conversion attempt by Carney successful in what has been a tremendous display of goal kicking from both kickers tonight. Cronulla Sharks 36-24

Full time: Sharks 36-24 A red hot Sharks side have travelled to a chilly Canberra Stadium to post a comprehensive victory. An impressive result especially considering that the visitors were trailing 12-0 after a dozen minutes. A great team performance with Ben Ross the best of the forwards while Kimmorley and Seymour controlled proceedings close to the ruck. In the backs Pomeroy and Covell were standouts. For the Raiders, a number of players trying hard but they were simply outplayed in the end. Stats very even on the possession front and penalties ended up at 9-8 in favour of the home side.