Sharks hold on in "blockbuster" clash after Sua'ali'i binned

Sharks hold on in “blockbuster” clash after Sua’ali’i binned

The Cronulla Sharks have secured their spot at the top of the table after holding off the Sydney Roosters in a “blockbuster” 38-30 finish.

Joseph Sua’ali’i was given marching orders for committing a professional foul on Ronaldo Mulitalo after he tackled the Sharks winger while not square at marker – in what proved to be a costly call in the final moments of the game.

Cronulla looked sure to go over almost immediately after an earlier Roosters try but was prevented by an offside Sua’ali’i.

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“Without his actions, Mulitalo scores,” Warren Smith said in commentary for Fox League. 

Down a man, the Roosters were unable to hold off Sione Katoa, who dove over in the corner to put the Sharks in front.

Cronulla started their Magic Round campaign in style, as Will Kennedy scored off the back of his first touch in the game.

The ladder-leaders went 70m down the line before Luke Keary sent a kick over the top of the Roosters defence. Dom Young was there to catch it but fumbled the ball just a metre from the line when Kennedy pounced and charged over to score.

The Roosters wasted no time hitting back, as a flick pass from Sua’ali’i gifted Dom Young his 50th try. The Tricolours added an extra two points after levelling the scores, with Keary sinking a penalty kick to take a 10-8 lead.

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An error from James Tedesco opened the next opportunity for the Sharks after the Roosters fullback allowed a bomb kick from returning halfback Nicho Hynes to float toward the sidelines. The ball fell just short of the boundary before it bounced over for the Sharks to receive a 40/20.

“Tedesco just lost his compass. He didn’t know where he was and let the ball go out,” Corey Parker said in commentary for Fox League.

A quick play of the ball saw Teig Wilton slice in between Sam Walker and Sua’ali’i, and power over to score.

Despite the Sharks’ strength in attack, the Roosters’ Fetalaiga Pauga scored on the stroke of halftime, bringing the scores to 24-18.

“It has lived up to the blockbuster headlines that this game had,” Greg Alexander said on Fox League. 

“This has been a hell of a game to watch,” Cooper Cronk replied.

The Sharks went over twice more in the second half before a late try from Young saw the Roosters back within two points of the win.

The Tricolours lost star playmaker Keary in the final minutes after he copped the stray hand of teammate Lindsay Collins as the pair attempted to make a tackle. He was forced off for a HIA.

Thomas Hazelton muscled his way over the top of Connor Watson and Angus Crichton to seal the victory for Cronulla.

“He’s scored more tries than me. Good things happen to good people and to people who work hard. I’m so happy for him,” Nicho Hynes told Fox League after the match. 

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