The New Zealand Warriors and Cronulla Sharks came into their round ten game on the Gold Coast knowing that a loss would make any chance of a play-off place a very difficult prospect as the shortened season hit half way with both sides languishing in the bottom seven.
Both sides suffered defeats last weekend, the Warriors going down 16-12 to the Titans while the Sharks were hammered by 56-24 by the Panthers.
A big win for the Sharks would lift them into the top eight but the best that the Warriors could hope for was to move up one place to twelfth.
It was way too easy for Braden Hamlin-Uele as the big prop took a short pass and walked through the Warriors defence to score by the left upright. Shaun Johnson kicked a simple conversion from the shadow of the uprights for a 6-0 lead after three minutes.
Three minutes later Patrick Herbert appeared to respond for the Warriors as the Sharks failed to deal with a kick through but after great work by David Fusitu’a was bombed by Herbert as he dropped the ball in the act of scoring.
The Sharks too full advantage on eight minutes as William Kennedy took a pass and ran the angle from twenty metres. Johnson added the conversion from wide for 12-0, the Warriors stunned by a super-fast Sharks opening salvo.
The third Sharks try came on fifteen with a last tackle power play culminating in a fantastic offload from Josh Dugan to Ronaldo Mulitalo who dove in at the corner. Johnson converted from the touchline for 18-0 with Cronulla running hot at more than a point a minute.
The Warriors finally broke their duck on twenty-two with Ken Maumalo taking a miss out pass from Kodi Nikorima to coast over in the left corner. Nikorima was unable to add the extras.
On twenty-eight Johnson put in a grubber kick which caused problem in the Warriors defence and the kicker managed to chase down the ball and ground the bobbling ball. He added another two-pointer for a 24-4 lead.
Two minutes after the restart the Sharks continued their onslaught. Johnson took a kick through behind his own line and waltzed through a broken defence to make the forty before passing to speedster Sione Katoa who went sixty, stepping out of an attempted tackle, to dive over and score one handed in the right corner. Johnson swung his touchline kick through the uprights for 30-4.
On fifty-six the Sharks went over in the corner thanks to a Johnson pass into the hands of Jesse Ramien to palm off a tackler and ground by the right corner flag. Johnson hit the near upright with his kick, his first miss of the day.
Blake Green was sin-binned for a professional foul on the hour mark, pushing an opponent over as he chased the ball. Within ninety seconds some soft hands from Graham, Johnson and Townsend saw the ball end up with Katoa for his second of the afternoon. Johnson smacked his kick through the uprights for 40-4.
Three minutes from time Katoa picked up a loose Warriors pass and found Ramien in support who jinked between the tacklers to score under the sticks. Johnson added the conversion for 46-4.
With seconds left on the clock the Warriors kept the ball alive for Tuivasa-Sheck to find Wayde Egan to score under the sticks. Tuivasa Sheck added the goal for 10-46.
A professional and ruthless performance from the Sharks against a New Zealand Warriors side who are stumbling from one disaster to the next. Braces from Katoa and Ramien looked to have lifted them into the top eight but the try from Egan at the death denied them.
New Zealand Warriors: Tuivasa-Sheck (G), Fusitu’a, Herbert, Hiku, Maumalo (T), Nikorima, Green (SB on 60), Taunoa-Brown, Egan (T), Blair, Harris, Lawton, Hetherington. Subs: Katoa, Paasi, Papali’I, Tevaga.
Cronulla Sharks: Kennedy (T), Katoa (2T), Dugan, Ramien (2T), Mulitalo (T), Johnson (T, 7G), Townsend, Hamlin-Uele (T), Brailey, Woods, Nikora, Graham, Sorensen. Subs: Tracey, Rudolf, Talakai, Hunt.
Referee: Matt Cecchin.
Ground: Central Coast Stadium, Gold Coast.