Cronulla thrash Canberra, 36-10 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cronulla thrash Canberra, 36-10

By David Beniuk 13/09/2008 11:00:32 PM Comments (0)

A first half hat-trick to winger Misi Taulapapa helped ensure Cronulla will stay alive for another week in the NRL finals as the Sharks thrashed Canberra 36-10 at Toyota Stadium.

Much to the bemusement of Sharks coach Ricky Stuart, the reward for the 26-point drubbing was a likely sudden-death encounter with the Sydney Roosters - and possibly at the Roosters' home ground.

While fellow week-one winners Brisbane secured a final at Suncorp Stadium next week with their 24-16 defeat of the Roosters on Friday night, the Sharks will be denied a home semi-final under the NRL's controversial McIntyre playoff system.

Week two of the finals are contested at "home city" venues, leaving the Sharks-Roosters clash to be played at either the Sydney Football Stadium or ANZ Stadium, the designated venues for Sydney clubs, on Friday night.

Unless the New Zealand Warriors upset minor premiers Melbourne on Sunday, the NRL will need to decide on the venue and revealed the Sharks will have no say in the matter.

As the league's chief operating officer Graham Annesley sat in on the post-match press conference, Stuart was asked what he thought of such an unfavourable scenario.

"Whose decision is it?" an unimpressed Stuart said. "Putting some pressure on Graham over there ..."

Told it was the NRL's call, Stuart was then asked whether he had a preference.

"Yep. And I'll talk to (Cronulla chief executive) Tony Zappia about it," he said.

"But it's a footy ground. All the same shape. Play where we have to."

Cronulla put the cleaners through the Raiders with a comprehensive seven-tries-to-two victory, never looking back after winger Misi Taulapapa's first-half hat-trick.

Taulapapa, who had only scored two tries all season before Saturday night, had doubled his 2008 tally by the 12th minute before crashing over for his third in the 35th to give the Sharks a 14-0 halftime lead.

"He's a very improved footy player," Stuart said.

"All the boys love having him around. He's a bubbly character, he's very much a team man and it was nice to see him get that individual accolade tonight."

Taulapapa picked up the scraps of a Brett Kimmorley cross-field chip which was spilt by Canberra centre Colin Best in just the third minute and the Sharks led 6-0.

He got his second in the 12th minute when he completed a backline move and narrowly stayed inside the corner post for the Sharks to lead 10-0.

Taulapapa's third came when lock Paul Gallen offloaded a miracle ball with tacklers all over him five minutes before the break.

The Raiders hit back quickly after halftime, playing some hot-potato football and scoring through Marshall Chalk in the 41st minute.

But their gain was cancelled out just three minutes later when an error led to a Brett Seymour four-pointer and it was 18-4.

That became 24-4 eight minutes later when Luke Covell came up with a try from a cross-field kick.

The Raiders rallied briefly when Best crossed in the 68th minute, but late tries to Ben Pomeroy and Brett Kearney iced the cake in front of 18,252 fans.

Star halfback Kimmorley was given the last conversion attempt in his farewell appearance for Cronulla at Shark Park, which he converted, after having a hand in six tries tonight.

The veteran playmaker was then given a warm sendoff from the fans - seven years after being booed for his perceived part in Preston Campbell's departure from the club.

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