Vintage Gal sparks Sharks past Tigers
CRONULLA have consolidated their spot in the NRL top eight on the back of a vintage second-half performance from veteran Paul Gallen in their 24-16 win over the Wests Tigers.
The Sharks appeared out of energy and ideas when they trailed a typically stubborn Tigers outfit by eight with half an hour to go at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Sunday.
But a nondescript solo try to the oldest player in the competition flipped the contest on its head.
The Cronulla skipper backed his way over on a routine run up the middle then set up a 90m try for Valentine Holmes four minutes later when he fielded a Luke Brooks kick.
It was Holmes' 12th try in 13 games this season.
The 13,093-strong crowd then found full voice as the Sharks made it three tries in 10 minutes as five-eighth Matt Moylan threw a looping cutout for Edrick Lee.
And just like that, the Sharks, who had lost Luke Lewis and Joseph Paulo to concussion, turned an eight-point deficit into an eight-point lead.
A Tuimoala Lolohea try set up by a Chris Lawrence linebreak against the run of play ensured a tense final 10 minutes, but Sharks rookie Jesse Ramien sealed the win in the 75th minute.
The exciting talent took full advantage of an Andrew Fifita offload before bursting through a tiring Tigers middle to give Cronulla their seventh win in eight matches.
The defeat for the Tigers, who lost Benji Marshall to a calf injury before the match, leaves them two points adrift of the top eight in ninth spot.
It was a penalty shootout early, with Esan Marsters and Chad Townsend potting three between them before Tigers hooker Elijah Taylor dummied his way over from close range.
The Sharks had twice the number of looks at the tryline than the Tigers and had a one-man advantage when Michael Chee Kam was binned for repeated infringements in the 33rd minute.
But the Tigers, who lost Chris Lawrence to a suspected leg injury late in the second half, showed enough resolve to take an eight-point lead at the break.
CRONULLA 24 (P Gallen V Holmes E Lee J Ramien tries C Townsend 4 goals) bt WESTS TIGERS 16 (T Lolohea E Taylor tries E Masters 4 goals) at Southern Cross Group Stadium. Referee: Adam Gee, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski. Crowd: 13,093