Rugby League

Sharks win arm-wrestle in gritty pre-season battle

February 23, 2024 4:54 pm

[Photo Credit: NRL]

A last-minute try helped the Sharks snatch a 12-6 win over the new-look Bulldogs in Belmore on Friday night.

It took 40 minutes to break a 6-6 deadlock in the 73rd minute before Sharks youngster Chris Vea’ila scored the match winning try to hand the Sharks a hard-fought Pre-Season Challenge win.

Both sides will be thankful for the opportunity to dust off the cobwebs and fine tune combinations before Round 1 with the Bulldogs racking up 17 errors and the Sharks 14.

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The Sharks kicked off proceedings in the 14th minute with backrower Teig Wilton finding a gap from close range to hit the lead 6-0.

After both sides traded sets, Bulldogs looked to hit back in the 31st minute when a steaming Josh Addo-Carr found new recruit Bronson Xerri in support before Briton Nikora pulled off a try-saver.

However, Cronulla paid the price with Nikora sent to the bin for a leg pull and after being gifted another repeated set the Bulldogs finally capitalised when fan favourite Jacob Preston muscled his way over the line. Matt Burton converted to make it 6-6 at the break.

The second stanza turned into a stalemate with both sides coughing up errors and failing to capitalise on opportunities as the Bulldogs chose to rest stars Matt Burton and Josh Addo-Carr with 20 minutes to play.

Come the 73rd minute and the Sharks finally broke the stalemate with Mawene Hiroti making youngster Bailey Hayward pay for a loose ball from dummy half when he found Vea’ila on the burst who dashed away to score the runaway try.