Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
40 hours ago
The New Zealand Warriors triumphed over a resilient Cronulla Sharks side 16-12 yesterday at Mt Smart Stadium which keeps their finals bid alive all the while keeping the Sharks in the wooden spoon position.
Before the game kicked off, the Sharks casualty list had grown with Paul Gallen pulling out of the game with a virus and he flew home to make sure he didn't infect his team-mates. His presence and captaining skills were missed once again for the Cronulla outfit with the Warriors once again running out of the blocks and they were the first on the board through centre Ngani Laumape after the Kiwis forced back-to-back dropouts and the early pressure was too much for the struggling Sharks. It was the sixth game in a row the Warriors had scored a try in the first 10 minutes of a game.
The Sharks bounced back though with Tinirau Arona scoring after touching down a kick to score next to the posts. That was Cronulla's one and only real attacking opportunity of the first half with the Warriors dominating time with the ball and with 68 percent of possession, more tries for the home side seemed inevitable. Laumape went in for his second of the game to put the Warriors back into the lead on 24 minutes before Manu Vatuvei extended the lead after the video referee ruled that he had been able to ground a little bit of ball on the chalk after initially looking like he had gone short in his pursuit of the line.
The score going into the sheds was 16-6 in favour of the home side, but the Sharks defence was stern and they had every right to be down by much more heading to the break. The second half got underway with plenty of errors from both teams and approaching the 60th minute of the match, the half time score hadn't changed.
The Sharks were rewarded with 20 to go when Jeff Robson's cross field kick was caught superbly by former Warrior Sosaia Feki and with Gordon converting from the sideline; the Sharks were only four points behind with plenty of time remaining on the clock. The clock gradually ran out on the Sharks with former Shark Townsend missing a penalty goal attempt with two minutes left and the Warriors were home after a scrappy second half performance and failed to add a single point to their half time score in the 2nd period.
This was the Warriors first win against Cronulla in five attempts and was also their fifth victory at Mt Smart this campaign. The Warriors take the two competition points, while the Sharks languish in bottom position. Next week the Auckland-based club travels to Newcastle for a Sunday showdown with the Knights, while the Sharks are off for a gruelling excursion to Melbourne against the Storm on Saturday.
LATE MAIL: Sharks - Paul Gallen has returned to Australia due to a virus, he has been ruled out for Cronulla. He is replaced by Tinirau Arona in the starting side. Pat Politoni has been promoted to the starting hooker position, Michael Lichaa moves to the bench
We are UNDERWAY at Mt. Smart Stadium as the Cronulla Sharks kick off.
3: Pressure on the Sharks early, Warriors finding their gears. Line drop out, 3 minutes gone no score
13: VIDEO REFEREE for the Sharks, they could have points to level up at 6-all as Tinirau Arona cleans up
13: TRY CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS
Scored by Tinirau Arona. Kick to come.
GREEN LIGHTS for Cronulla, Tinirau Arona cleans up a messy play in goal as the little kick is swiped out by the Warriors and missed.
21: VIDEO REFEREE for the Warriors, we have NO TRY for Ben Matulino as he darted under the posts. But he doesn't think he has scored.
21: NO TRY for the Warriors, held up in goal as replays showed he was short and held off the line.
29: VIDEO REFEREE for the Warriors, we have NO TRY for Manu Vatuvei. He is ready to play the ball, doesn't believe he has scored.
31: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Conversion attempt by Chad Townsend unsuccessful.
Chad Townsend this time around is unable to convert from the other side of Mt Smart Stadium, score remains
32: Bad to worse for the Sharks, kick restart out on the full. Pressure all on Cronulla as the Warriors march towards the line
33: The pressure is released with a mistake on the try line. Cronulla with the scrum feed
40: HALF TIME at Mt. Smart Stadium sees the home side, Warriors, leading the visiting Cronulla Sharks 16-6
75: UNSUCCESSFUL PENALTY GOAL NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Penalty goal attempt by Chad Townsend unsuccessful.
Chad Townsend takes a shot at penalty goal to extend the lead to 6 points, but it's wide of the posts
80: FULL TIME at Mt. Smart Stadium sees the Warriors hold off the Sharks, who showed promising signs today, winning 16-12