Cronulla Sharks led by a blistering first half performance won 34-22 against Manly Sea Eagles tonight at Shark Park.
It was the Siosifa Talakai show for the Sharks in the first half. The backrower turned centre scored a brace and set up another three in a scintillating first half from the Sharks which had them leading 32-0 at the break.
There must've been a vortex at the southern end of Shark Park. 54 of the 56 points scored tonight were at the northern end of the stadium which contained the hearty souls who were on the hill. Sharks scored six tries while the Sea Eagles scored four in the tiled field position.
The first half was a marker laid down by the Sharks after their disappointment in Melbourne last week. The shire side looked likely to score every time they sent the ball to their left side attack of Talakai and Ronaldo Mulitalo. The pair produced four tries and had the faithful in raptures on a soggy night.
Talakai has been a revelation since his switch to the backline. The powerhouse showed off his full range of skills in the first half to earn the Man of the Match honours by the hooter sound. He just sliced through the Sea Eagles defense for his pair of tries, showed soft hands then put in a deft kick for Will Kennedy to make it 26-0.
Tieg Wilton added another score late in the half. He steamed onto a wonderful pass to make it 32-0 at the break. Cronulla were on fire so much that the fire alarm was sounding around Shark Park as the teams headed to the sheds.
Sea Eagles used the wind to their advantage. The visitors who usually have a sublime record in the shire were blown away. Christian Tuipulotu found the line in the 44th minute before a pair of tries to Taniela Paseka and Haumole Olakau'atu brought them back within 16 points.
Sensing the momentum had shifted. The Sea Eagles tried to continue to pile on the points and create one of the great comebacks in the NRL era. Their cause was helped when Lachlan Croker burrowed over from close range after some confirmation from the bunker, suddenly it was 32-22.
The game started to get frayed with both teams trying to take home the two points. Sea Eagles also were decimated with injuries losing Dylan Walker, Andrew Davey and Taniela Paseka during the contest. Sharks did lose William Kennedy late in the contest but did take home the two points.