Sharks end rough week to beat Warriors - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sharks end rough week to beat Warriors

By Philip Henderson 27/05/2006 11:19:35 PM Comments (0)

Cronulla cast aside a week of off-field drama to keep its 2006 NRL campaign on track with a clinical 34-20 win over the New Zealand Warriors at Toyota Park.

Just days after the club sacked hooker Tevita Latu for allegedly hitting a teenage woman, the Sharks claimed their sixth win of the season after taking hold of the game with a 24-4 halftime lead.

Coach Stuart Raper admitted Latu's swift axing had been a big blow to the Sharks players, but said the team quickly put the incident behind them to ensure their season did not fall off the rails.

"Obviously it was a big shock at the beginning of the week to the players," Raper said.

"They're a very close bunch of players. When something like that happens it certainly knocks you back a bit.

"But what I was really pleased about was Wednesday when we came into training the focus was the Warriors... it was basically the guys put it behind them, understood what had happened and moved forward."

With Cronulla having the bye next week, the win - their fifth in six starts - secures the Sharks position in the top eight past the halfway mark of the season.

Speedster Darren Albert bagged two tries with fellow Sharks winger Luke Covell again on target with the boot, nailing five-of-six conversions, including three from near the sideline.

The main architects of the Sharks win however were halfback Brett Kimmorley and backrow duo Greg Bird and Paul Gallen.

Skipper Kimmorley, playing his second game since returning from an ankle injury, gave NSW selectors plenty of reasons why he should remain in the mix for a State of Origin berth with a strong performance.

It is Gallen, though, who stands the better chance of breaking into the Blues side for Origin II with incumbent NSW backrower Luke O'Donnell in doubt with a thumb injury.

The match was Gallen and Kimmorley's last chance to push for selection with next week's bye meaning the Sharks won't play again until after the Origin teams are named on Monday week.

"I knew (it was my last chance), so I'll just have to wait to see what happens," Gallen said.

"I've done pretty well the last few weeks... there's probably a big chance for me but we'll just have to wait and see what the selectors decide. I've done everything I could tonight."

For the Warriors, the night quickly went from bad to worse.

Having already lost influential backrower Awen Guttenbeil to sickness before kickoff, the Warriors found themselves trailing 6-0 in less than a minute after Nigel Vagana's opening try, and soon after lost winger Todd Byrne to a suspected broken arm.

Despite edging back to 6-4 with an eighth-minute try to centre Simon Mannering - which followed a Wairangi Koopu intercept, the first of two from the backrower off Kimmorley which lead to tries - the Warriors never looked like troubling the Sharks.

"That was by far the worst performance we've had all year," said Warriors coach Ivan Cleary.

"We didn't play with anywhere near enough intensity and enthusiasm, and the result was probably fair enough really."

The Sharks only real concern of the night was a leg injury to debutant Tony Caine.

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