A dominant performance from Benji Marshall and a hat trick from Taniela Tuiaki have catapulted the rampaging Tigers to a 56-10 victory over a woeful Sharks outfit at Toyota Stadium. The Tigers were near unstoppable in the ten try rout, which also featured doubles to Benji Marshall, Blake Ayshford and Beau Ryan.
Cronulla started the match strong, with all the possession and several penalties putting them in great field position, but poor options handed the Tigers a single opportunity that they gleefully accepted. Robbie Farah darted out of acting half before Moltzen and Marshall combined to score the first of many tries from range for the afternoon. They were in again minutes later through Blake Ayshford; after Scott Porter failed to find touch from a penalty, debutant Robert Lui put in a neat grubber that drew a knock on from the Sharks defence, and Ayshford capitalised to dive over in the corner.
Whilst everything the Tigers touched was turning to gold, everything the Sharks touched was turning into something far less desirable. They had their chances in the first half, but consistent poor options and a foot on the sideline from Taulapapa denied them several times. The Tigers, on the other hand, continued their charmed run with two tries in five minutes leading into half time, both from range and both to Taniela Tuiaki, to give them a 28-0 lead at the break.
Whether or not Ricky Stuart gave his charges an earful at half time, it didn't seem to make a great deal of difference as their second set of the new half resulted in a long range try to Tim Moltzen. A loose and unnecessary offload from Anthony Tupou was scooped up by Kieth Galloway, who sent Moltzen on a ninety metre run to the line. The Sharks luck looked to be turning ten minutes later, however, when Matt Wright chased his own neat little chip kick to get the Sharks on the board at last.
The Tigers had other ideas, though, and three tries in less than ten minutes hammered the final nail into even the most optimistic fans coffin. First a beautiful Farah grubber was snatched out of the air on the right edge by Beau Ryan, and then Marshall and Ayshford scored great tries from distance to bury any slim hopes the Sharks may have entertained. Matt Wright salvaged some shred of pride for the home side when he scored off a nice individual run, but it came at a price as Gallen limped off with a groin injury sustained in the play leading up to it.
Now well on the rampage, the Tigers seemed to have an opportunity every set, but just forced their hand in their enthusiasm and let several great chances slide by. They did get to ice the cake in the end, though, as Tuiaki scored his third and simplest try from a scrum to complete the 46 point thumping. The win sees the Tigers continue their charge to the finals, with the boost to for and against massively important in a competition so close that points difference could prove the difference between 7th and 10th. The Sharks, on the other hand, are destined to slug it out for the wooden spoon with the Roosters and will be praying that next year comes around quickly.
Match Details Wests Tigers 56 def Cronulla Sharks 10 Round 23 - Sunday August 16th, 2009 02:00pm Venue: Toyota Stadium, Cronulla Referee: Steve Lyons & Alan Shortall Sideline Officials: Russell Turner & Ricky McFarlane Video Referee: Phil Cooley Crowd: 12,982 Halftime: Cronulla Sharks 0 Wests Tigers 28
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SHARKS: 1. Bronx Goodwin 2. Misi Taulapapa 3. Ben Pomeroy 4. Mitch Brown 5. Luke Covell 6. Matthew Wright 7. Scott Porter 8. Kade Snowden 9. Corey Hughes 10. Luke Douglas 11. Jack Afamasaga 12. Grant Millington 13. Paul Gallen Interchange: 14. Ian Donnelly 15. Bryan Norrie 16. Nathan Stapleton 17. Terence Seu Seu TIGERS: 1. Tim Moltzen 2. Taniela Tuiaki 3. Blake Ayshford 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Beau Ryan 6. Benji Marshall 7. Robert Lui 8. Bryce Gibbs 9. Robbie Farah 10. Keith Galloway 11. Gareth Ellis 12. Todd Payten 13. Chris Heighington Interchange: 14. John Morris 15. Danny Galea 16. Corey Payne 17. John Skandalis 18. Dean Collis
Good afternoon folks and welcome to Toyota Stadium for what is shaping up to be an interesting match. The Sharks will be desperate to get a win at home and get away from the Roosters at the bottom of the ladder, and the Tigers have been on fire in recent weeks and will be looking to continue their late charge into the final eight.
In team news, Tim Weyman and Lancen Joudo come onto the Sharks bench in place of Bryan Norrie and Terence Seu Seu respectively, while Nathan Stapleton is into the starting side for the injured Bronx Goodwin and Anthony Tupou makes his return. The Tigers are as named on Tuesday.
KICKOFF! We're underway as Benji Marshall puts the ball deep into the northern end of Toyota Stadium
3rd min: PENALTY SHARKS-Bryce Gibbs shoves Scott Porter back to ground on the zero tackle, silly stuff and the Sharks are deep on the attack early.
7th min: PENALTY TIGERS: Ben Pomeroy takes his time in the tackle and the Tigers get their first look at the Sharks end of the park.
8th min: SCRUM SHARKS: Gareth Ellis makes a simple error in the Tigers 20m zone.
10th min: TRY Wests Tigers Great stuff from the Tigers! Farah got them going with a dart from acting half, and gave it to Marshall who put Moltzen through a hole and then backed up and scored under the posts. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall successful. Wests Tigers 6-0
14th min: A disappointing end to the Sharks set after an offload from Millington had Stapleton flying down field, and the Tigers have a 20m restart.
16th min: PENALTY SHARKS: Blake Ayshford doesn't lock in at marker and the Sharks get out of their end with an easy kick for touch...actually, Scott Porter hasn't found touch! What a bad error to make.
17th min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible try to Blake Ayshford for the Tigers.
17th min: TRY Wests Tigers The Tigers make Scott Porter pay dearly for his error in not finding touch. The debutant number 7 Robert Lui put a great little grubber in, the Sharks defender knocked the ball forward straight into the hands of Ayshford who dived over in the corner. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall unsuccessful. Wests Tigers 10-0
20th min: Another Sharks kick goes dead in goal, they haven't built any pressure since the back to back penalties in the opening stages of the game.
23rd min: Finally, a good kick from Porter who bombs Tuiaki. Taniela can't make the ground to catch it and the Sharks toe it messily ahead, but an accidental offside ends the madness with a changeover
25th min: TRY Wests Tigers A long bust orchestrated by Farah and Ellis gives the Tigers a great opportunity, and quick hands to Beau Ryan seize that opportunity in the corner. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall successful. Wests Tigers 16-0
29th min: Butchered! The Sharks had a golden opportunity as Covell batted a bomb back to Pomeroy, but Pomeroy handed the ball back to the Tigers players on the inside. An error from Robert Lui will give them another shot though, can they take advantage this time?
31st min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Sharks try to Taulapapa, checking obstruction, the sideline and the grounding. He looks to have touched the line, this will be a tough one.
31st min: NO TRY: Phil Cooley rules that Taulapapa has indeed touched the sideline and we have a scrum.
33rd min: TRY Wests Tigers What a great try! Robbie Farah darted out of acting half on his own 10m line, and got through a horribly lazy attempt at a tackle from Luke Douglas who should hang his head in shame. Big Tuiaki then got the ball and steamed down field to score under the sticks. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall successful. Wests Tigers 22-0
36th min: PENALTY SHARKS: Robert Lui is called offside and gives the Sharks another chance to finally get on the board.
39th min: Well, the Sharks won't get on the board in this half as Donnelly drops the ball after two more average attacking sets.
40th min: TRY Wests Tigers Well, the Sharks may not be able to score, but the Tigers can do it at will! Robbie Farah created a bust on the right for Ayshford and Ryan, the Sharks managed to hem Ryan in but he just floated across field like he was untouchable to give the ball to Marshall. All Benji had to do was give it to the big tank on the left wing and the try was scored as the siren went for half time. There may have been a question over the last pass but it's all academic now. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall successful. Wests Tigers 28-0
And with the sideline conversion the teams will head up the tunnel for a break. The Sharks will surely face a livid Ricky Stuart after a terrible half of footy. They've had their chances but poor options and poor effort have got them in a situation where all they can now do is try and salvage some pride. Tim Sheens, on the other hand, must be ecstatic at the performance of his side who are seemingly scoring whenever they feel like it.
KICKOFF: Luke Covell gets the second half going.
43rd min: TRY Wests Tigers Well, that's certainly not going to help the Sharks cause. A speculator from Tupou inside the Tigers ten found Kieth Galloway, who sent Tim Moltzen on a 90m run to score under the posts. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall successful. Wests Tigers 34-0
47th min: PENALTY SHARKS: Millington made a long bust, and the Sharks caught the Tigers defence offside on their own line. They have a huge chance here. Of course, as I say that they pass the ball straight to the Tigers.
52nd min: A try goes begging as Benji Marshall receives an offload and throws the ball into the 14th row.
53rd min: NO TRY: The ball did go forward into Mitch Brown and we have a Cronulla scrum 40m back up field.
55th min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Cronulla try. Checking to see if Mitch Brown has dropped the ball before kicking it, though it looks to me as though the Sharks will finally get on the board.
55th min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Mitch Brown puts over a little chip kick and races through to score the try. Cronulla are finally on the board! Conversion attempt by Luke Covell unsuccessful. Wests Tigers 34-4
58th min: TRY Wests Tigers Well, we're back to the status quo it would seem. A beautiful little grubber from Robbie Farah bounces perfectly for Beau Ryan who scores his second try out wide. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall unsuccessful. Wests Tigers 38-4
64th min: TRY Wests Tigers It's getting a bit sad for Cronulla now as a series of offloads send Ayshford over in the corner. Benji looking to get the Tigers to 50 nails the conversion. What a day for the Tigers! Wests Tigers 50-4
67th min: The Tigers are just toying with them now as Moltzen runs through an attempted tackle and then beats half the side to almost go over. The Sharks breathe a sigh of relief as he passes the ball straight to them and then Morris compounds the error with a penalty.
69th min: TRY Cronulla Sharks An offload from Tupou allows Matt Wright to score under the posts after a very nice individual run. Payten is on report for lifting Tupou after the offload. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell successful. Wests Tigers 50-10
69th min: As all that was going on with the try and the conversion, Paul Gallen has limped off with what looks to be a pretty serious groin injury.
71st min: What a crazy passage of play! Marshall put up a bomb, which was allowed to bounce and then batted back by the Tigers. They threw it blindly out to Marshall on the left, who carved through the line and was only prevented from putting Tuiaki over by a bat down. The Sharks then threw the ball around there own in goal to get out of jail, and to top it all off the Tigers were penalised for a strip.
72nd min: The Sharks throw the ball into touch with open space in front of them.
78th min: TRY Wests Tigers It's all too easy for the Tigers as a simple string of passes sends Tuiaki over for his hat trick off a scrum. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall successful. Wests Tigers 56-10
80th min: Benji Marshall attempts a drop goal just for the fun of it, but it fades right as the siren goes in the background.
And that's it boys and girls, full time. The Tigers will be ecstatic with that result, not only have they firmly entrenched themselves in the eight for the time being but they have given their for and against a massive boost which could help them squeak home come round 26. They were outstanding in all areas today, and even this huge scoreline may flatter the Sharks a little as the Tigers could have easily scored another 12 points if not for some errors. The Sharks, on the other hand, will want to totally forget today ever happened...