The coaching debut of club great Stacey Jones wasn't enough to change the Warriors' fortunes as they went down to Cronulla-Sutherland 38-16 in an entertaining Sunday Night encounter.
In a week shrouded by controversy in the wake of Nathan Brown's shock resignation, Stacey Jones was given the almost impossible task of trying to upset one of the more improved teams in the competition. For much of the opening stages, it seemed like the interim coach curse would strike again. It was an impressive start for the Warriors when Reece Walsh caught Cronulla's left-hand defence napping in the seventh minute and the home side had an early 6-0 lead. That lead was doubled minutes later when Wayde Egan exposed the Sharks' middle defence when he crashed over from short range and the Warriors had a 12-0 lead.
Then, the Warriors of more recent times reared their heads when they conceded a flurry of tries which saw their comfortable lead evaporate quickly. A clever kick from Nicho Hynes was knocked back by Jesse Ramien and sat up for Sione Katoa to cross for the black, white and blues. Four minutes later, Siosifa Talakai (who was in doubt all week due to off-field matters) crashed over the top of Chanel Harris-Tavita and brushed past some ordinary right-hand defence to cross. The only difference in the match was goal-kicking and Nicho Hynes was struggling.
When Jack Murchie was penalised for facing the Great Barrier Reef to play the ball, Cronulla pounced and Ronaldo Mulitalo crossed and did his trademark Christiano Ronaldo celebration. Hynes finally knocked a goal over and the Sharks led for the first time tonight. After a mini resistance from the Warriors' defence, they quickly were back waving the white flags when Matt Moylan bounced over some sloppy defence to cross and extend the margin to eight points. Another sloppy penalty conceded in the Warriors' own end, led to another try just before the break when Katoa crossed for his second and the Sharks led by 12 at half-time.
It was the Warriors who again started the half the strongest, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak crossed in spectacular fashion and there was hope for the Warriors only down by 8 points. But, old habits die hard and a controversial second try to Mulitalo after an extensive bunker check seemed to take it out of the Warriors. The wheels quickly came off the Warriors' express when Walsh juggled the ball for a good five seconds before spilling it and allowing Will Kennedy to sneak over and dive on the ball setting up a convincing 18-point lead. Another spilt pass from Walsh saw Katoa sprint 50 meters to cross for his hattrick.
The news doesn't get better for the Warriors with Ben Murdoch-Mesilla and Euan Aitken failing to finish the game with BMM leaving by ambulance with a dislocated elbow. To compound the news, their last game at their Redcliffe base is against a rampaging Penrith side before they can FINALLY return home across the ditch. Cronulla on the other hand were impressive, but at times they were very unconvincing. They take their next home game to Coffs Harbour when they take on the Titans.