By Lars Roy at North Sydney Oval
The Cronulla Sharks have maintained their spot inside the top eight after defeating the North Sydney Bears 32-10 at North Sydney Oval on Saturday.
After a back to back sets on the Bears line, the visitors capitalised on their opportunity by crossing for the first points of the game in the 11th minute.
Travis Robinson was the try scorer and recipient of a Penani Manumalealii cut-out pass. Despite a missed conversion from the sideline, the Sharks had the lead at 4-0.
North Sydney hit back only five minutes later through Mark O’Dare, after a penalty on half way put the Bears in good field position.
An identical decoy play and cut-out pass that saw Robinson score was used by the Bears, with the last pass coming from Kane Morgan.
The conversion attempt from the sideline by Aldridge struck the post and was waved away which left the score tied at four points apiece.
The next fifteen minutes by both sides were scrappy which was understandable given the conditions, but the Bears managed to literally weather the storm and cross for their second try through a chip and chase re-gather by Kurt Aldridge.
Aldridge converted his own try, which were the last points of the half, leaving the score at 10-4 to the Bears at the break.
The visitors scored the first points of the second half, after a North Sydney dropped ball, from a last tackle kick, was pounced on by Cronulla interchange, Jake Lawrence.
The try was converted by Young Tonumaipea, which evened up the score at 10-10.
Cronulla went back-to-back through Ben Hampton, who scored in the 48th minute after slicing through some ordinary right-edge defence by the Bears.
Hampton collected a double in the set after points again through the Bears’ inability to defuse the high ball.
Tonumaipea converted the try which increased the Sharks lead to 10 points. He then added another two points to the scoreboard in the 56th minute from a penalty goal.
Sharks second rower, Michael Morris, was next to cross four minutes later, through a fluent shift play conducted by Hampton and Manumalealii.
The Sharks had well and truly woken up since the first half, scoring 24 unanswered points in only 20 minutes, giving them a lead of three converted tries.
Although the Sharks showed good commitment in defence, the Bears found it difficult completing sets, let alone stringing together any threatening attacking plays.
The boys from the Shire sealed the second half blow-out in the 77th minute through Ben Hampton, who brought up his hat-trick.
Next week the Bears will be making the trip across the Tasman to take on the New Zealand Warriors at Mount Smart Stadium, while the Sharks will play at Aubrey Keech Reserve against Mounties.
Cronulla Sharks 32 (B Hampton 3, M Morris, T Robinson, J Lawrence tries; Y Tonumaipea 4 goals) def. North Sydney Bears 10 (K Aldridge, M O’Dare tries; K Aldridge goal) at North Sydney Oval.