Fulltime score: Round 15 Cronulla Sharks 16 v Sydney Roosters 10
Match summary: The Cronulla Sharks have broken their home-ground drought with a 16-10 victory over the Sydney Roosters in front of 16,355 fans in chilly conditions at Toyota Park tonight.
It was a terrible start to the match for the Sharks, who lost the ball on the first tackle in their first three sets of possession. The Roosters were unable to capitalise at first, but a good pass from fill-in 5/8th Michael Crocker put Craig Fitzgibbon into a hole that set up Ryan Cross for the opening try in the 10th minute of the match.
The remainder of the first half was a scrappy affair as both sides struggled to obtain fluency in their attack, especially the Roosters who were missing Craig Wing and relied heavily on Brett Finch to kick them out of trouble. Luke Covell put the Sharks on the board with a penalty goal, but the Roosters kicked further ahead right on half-time with a try to Joel Monaghan out wide to take a 2-10 lead into the sheds.
The Roosters started the second half strongly, but had nothing to show for their efforts when Ryan Cross was ruled to have been held up in the 50th minute. This spurred the Sharks into action, and tries to Nigel Vagana and Paul Mellor gave the Sharks the lead for the first time in the 63rd minute of the match. Mellor's try was a definite highlight - a beautiful flick-pass from winger Luke Covell found Mellor, who kicked ahead and only just won the race for the ball ahead of Anthony Minichiello (and the touch line in-goal).
The Sharks secured the victory with a late try to Phil Bailey, who had played strongly all night and provided headaches for the Roosters defence out wide with strong running and timely off-loads. Adam Dykes provided much of the attacking spark as Brett Kimmorley had another quiet game by his lofty standards.
The Roosters were well served by Craig Fitzgibbon and Ryan Cross, but they seemed to be lacking a lot of direction in their attack. Unfortunately, they could now find themselves outside of the Top 8 after this weekend's round.
Scorers: CRONULLA SHARKS 16 Tries: Vagana, Mellor, Bailey Goals: Covell 2/4 SYDNEY ROOSTERS 10 Tries: Cross, Monaghan Goals: Fitzgibbon 1/2
Venue: Toyota Park Crowd: 16,355 Referee: Tim Mander Half time: Sharks 2 Roosters 10
Live commentary: Welcome to Toyota Park for the Round 15 kick-off between the Sharks and the Roosters. The Sharks will be striving to turn around their lack of form in recent weeks, while the Roosters have five players backing up from Wednesday's Origin match as they look to continue clawing their way up the ladder. A late change for the Roosters - Craig Wing is out, replaced by Michael Crocker in the starting team with Ricky Paea & Michael Lett also joining the 17.
0 min: Kickoff!
0 min: NEWS - Greg Bird (Sharks) has knocked-on from the kick-off.
2 min: Luke Covell claims a Brett Finch bomb on the full in-goal to relieve the early pressure - but then Danny Nutley knocks-on!
4 min: Adrian Morley (Roosters) is penalised for a high-ish shot on Greg Bird who had picked up a Rooster fumble. Hopefully Cronulla can hold the ball for this set.
8 min: Still no score - the Sharks have overcome their early fumbles and are starting to chance their arm with some good offloads on the flanks.
10 min: TRY - Roosters Ryan Cross crashes over to open the scoring. The initial break was made by Craig Fitzgibbon on half-way after a "suspicious" pass from Michael Crocker. Fitzgibbon slots the extra two. Sharks 0 Roosters 6
17 min: This game is being played end-to-end at the moment with some strong attack from both sides being nullified with some tough defence.
21 min: Amos Roberts (Roosters) claims a bomb on his goal-line and makes a great 30-metre break before being caught by Adam Dykes.
23 min: PENALTY - Sharks Luke Covell gets the Sharks on the board with a penalty goal. Sharks 2 Roosters 6
29 min: Paul Mellor (Sharks) makes a break down the touch-line and puts a kick in-field at the last second, but the touchie (incorrectly) decides that he had put a foot into touch.
31 min: The Sharks have suddenly burst into life - this time, a sparkling set of off-loads puts them in a great position to score before a David Peachey fumble 10 metres out from the try-line.
38 min: NO TRY - Roosters Some sustained pressure from the Roosters almost leads to a try to Iosia Soliola out wide, but he couldn't quite reel in the final pass.
39 min: Paul Gallen (Sharks) seems to butcher a try after making a break but ignoring support on the inside from Nigel Vagana.
40 min: TRY - Roosters Joel Monaghan scores after a good cut-out pass from Ryan Cross out wide. Brett Kimmorley gets into a push-and-shove match with Brett Finch & Michael Crocker to finish an unhappy first half for the Sharks. Craig Fitzgibbon misses with the conversion. Sharks 2 Roosters 10
HALFTIME: Sharks 2 Roosters 10 Tim Mander gets a chorus of "Boos" as he walks up the tunnel.
We've seen a mixed first half performance from both sides tonight. The Roosters seem to be struggling on attacking options without Craig Wing, and the Sharks are getting into good positions before seeming to panic and letting their opposition off the hook.
The second half is underway!
44 min: The Roosters have started strongly this half, leading the way with early kicks and strong defence.
48 min: Iosia Soliola (Roosters) makes a great break down the sideline, but undoes the good work by passing after being held by David Peachey.
50 min: NO TRY - Roosters Ryan Cross is held up over the line after a strong run. From the following set, the Roosters concede a second penalty (by Anthony Minichiello) for passing after being held in a tackle.
53 min: TRY - Sharks Nigel Vagana scores out wide as the Sharks show signs of life once more. Anthony Minichiello was dragged into touch 15 metres out, and Adam Dykes feeds Vagana from the scrum win to get the Sharks back into the match. Luke Covell's conversion from the sideline is a beauty. Sharks 8 Roosters 10
60 min: Greg Bird (Sharks) has left the field with a leg injury.
63 min: The video ref is checking a possible Sharks try ... it will be an amazing effort if it's given ....
63 min: TRY - Sharks Paul Mellor dots down right in the corner. The Sharks ran the ball on the last before an amazing flick-pass from Luke Covell found Mellor, who grubbered ahead past Minichiello before only just squeezing in to claim the try. Luke Covell's conversion attempt from the sideline is a good effort, but just a fraction too short. Sharks 12 Roosters 10
69 min: Both teams are still suffering from too many handling errors in the cold conditions tonight. Paul Mellor (Sharks) has also left the field with a leg problem.
74 min: TRY - Sharks Phil Bailey caps off a strong game with a try to possibly seal the match for the Sharkies. A good pass from David Peachey caught the Roosters short out wide to set up the four-pointer. Luke Covell misses with the conversion attempt. Sharks 16 Roosters 10
79 min: One minute to go, the Roosters have a scrum 20 metres out from their own line ...
FULLTIME: Sharks 16 Roosters 10 Despite a slow start, the Sharks have come away with a gritty 16-10 victory in front of their home crowd tonight - and also managed to hold the Roosters scoreless for the second 40, which is no small achievement.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - Phil Bailey (Sharks) 2 - Craig Fitzgibbon (Roosters) 1 - Adam Dykes (Sharks) -----------------------------------------