By Jackson Russell at Mt Pritchard Sports Ground
Mounties have had the perfect tune up for the upcoming finals series with a 38-24 win over defending premiers Cronulla Sharks at Mt Pritchard Sports Ground.
The result left the Sharks relying on other results to fall their way in a bid to reach the finals.
Unfortunately for the Sharks this did not work out with the Warriors and Wyong getting victories to secure the last two spots in the top eight.
The match up started with Cronulla looking to take control straight out of the gate and they were rewarded early on when hooker Brad Deitz dove over from close range. This set up an easy kick for Young Tonumaipea to give the Sharks a 6-0 lead after five minutes.
Mounties then took the ball down to the Sharks line and spread it wide, however a pass was picked off by Travis Robinson who then raced 90 metres to go in under the posts and extend the lead to 12-0.
The Cronulla side looked like they could run away with the match but the sin binning of Ben Hampton sprung the Mounties to life.
Quick hands through the line saw Reece Robinson go over in the corner. To even up the ledger between he and his twin brother at one try all.
The Mounties again took the ball down that side of the field and were rewarded again. This time center Sami Sauiluma touched down and at 10-12 this match had become a tight contest.
As the halftime whistle approached, big George Rose broke through the defence and moved the ball wide through a couple of Sharks players, Tonumaipea was on the end for a try next to the sideline. Tonumaipea converted his own try to have the score at 18-10 at the break.
Mounties came out knowing that they had to get first points and they did just that when a neat grubber was put into the in-goal for winger Wayne Dargan to dive on and put his side within touching distance. Terry Campese’s conversion made it 18-16.
Cronulla had a chance to clear their line with a kick for touch however they couldn’t find the line.
The Mounties made them pay for this with Sauiluma getting over for his second in the following set.
The Sharks however responded quickly with Kurt Drysdale going over next to the post two minutes later. Cronulla were now back in front at 24-20.
With around 10 minutes to play Mounties blew the Sharks off the park with Dargan grabbing his second try and then three minutes later Sauiluma went over again for his hat trick.
Suddenly it was 32-24 and Mounties were looking dominant and finishing fast.
Frustrations were clear in the Cronulla camp and winger Travis Robinson was sent to the sin bin for backchat with four minutes left.
Mounties, to add salt to the wound, took the ball down Robinson’s side for Dargan to nab a hat trick and see his side run out 38-24 winners.
For the Cronulla Sharks their season has ended a lot earlier then they would have expected while the Mounties continue into the finals where they will have a sudden death match against the New Zealand Warriors at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday afternoon.
Mounties 38 (W Dargan 3, S Sauiluma 2, R Robinson 2 tries; T Campese 5 goals) def. Cronulla Sharks 24 (T Robinson, Y Tonumaipea, B Deitz, K Drysdale tries; Y Tonumaipea 4 goals) at Mt Pritchard Sports Ground.