Paul Gallen (right) of the Sharks tackles Ava Seumanufagai of the Tigers.
Paul Gallen (right) of the Sharks tackles Ava Seumanufagai of the Tigers. CRAIG GOLDING

Forgotten Shark delivers match-winning play

THERE was nothing pretty about the win but without five of their stars, Cronulla were victorious and it was a man who hadn't played first-grade since April 16 last season who set up the match-winner.

It was gritty, edge-of-your-seat stuff and it was a veteran and a rookie Shark who delivered.

With the game in the balance, Luke Lewis made a break to put his men in attacking position and Daniel Mortimer, in his Sharks debut, did the rest for a 24-22 victory over the Wests Tigers.

"An unbelievable play," Chad Townsend said of the match-winning try.

"Morts has a wealth of experience under his belt, came up with an awesome play and won us the game."

Without Valentine Holmes, Jack Bird, James Maloney, Wade Graham and Andrew Fifita due to State of Origin duties, the Sharks were slow to start.

It was a night to forget for Gerard Beale who butchered a try early when Edrick Lee kicked infield for the fullback, who couldn't reel the ball in.

It was a nervous moment for the visitors who were soon down a man when Ava Seumaufagai was sent to the sin bin just five minutes into the game for back-to-back penalties against future teammate Paul Gallen.


While Seumaufagai was forced to celebrate 10 minutes of his 100th NRL game in the sheds, his teammates didn't concede a point during that time.

Poor discipline by the Sharks made sure of that.

It wasn't until the 19th minute that the home side finally scored courtesy of a set play which saw Lee offload to Kurt Capewell who crossed in the corner.

Not long after, Luke Brooks tested out his troublesome hamstring by producing a towering bomb which was made a mess of by Beale to gift the Tigers a repeat set.

It didn't take long for debutant Matt Eisenhuth to repay the faith coach Ivan Cleary showed in him by setting Elijah Taylor up for a try.

Playing against his cousin, Gallen, it was the Sharks skipper who Eisenhuth sold a dummy to deliver a short ball for Taylor and Lolohea added the extras for a two point lead.

The Tigers were missing two men thanks to Origin with James Tedesco and Aaron Woods cheering their team on from the stands but didn't look like they were missing the duo.


Esan Marsters of the Tigers scores a try.
Esan Marsters of the Tigers scores a try. CRAIG GOLDING

Nearing halftime and Jayson Bukuya was penalised by referee Henry Perenara for what he called a "high and late" shot on Brooks.

The replays suggested otherwise but the penalty stood and two plays later Esan Marsters scored his try in first grade from a dummy half scoot.

Ahead by eight at the break, the Tigers continued the pain when Liddle sold Beale a dummy, ducked under the tackle of Jayden Brailey and extended the lead 16-4 after 48 minutes.

With the game threatening to get away from them, Mortimer, Joseph Paulo and Sosaia Feki combined for a Melbourne style out and in play which saw the winger set up Townsend.

The halfback then converted his try.

"Having 12 months under my belt and forming combinations, I'm really comfortable with my role," Townsend said.

"I want to make sure I do my role to the best of my ability."

When Capewell slid over for his second, with moment getting him across the line, the home team trailed by just two points.

But deputising for Tedesco, Kevin Naiqama delivered a perfectly weighted cut-out pass to Malakai Watene-Zelezniak to put his winger over.

Lolohea kicked the goal from touch to extend the lead by eight points.

Still the Sharks refused to quit with Lee crossing six minutes from fulltime and Townsend nailed the kick to reduce the deficit 22-20.

With the two minutes left on the clock, Luke Lewis made an incredible break up the guts to put the Sharks in prime attacking real estate.

Mortimer, in his first NRL appearance for the season, then skipped out of dummy half, put the ball on the toe and Bukuya did the rest.

The backrower pounced on the ball to seal the win for the comeback kings.

News Corp Australia

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