Full-time: CRONULLA 36 (A Fifita 2 J Bukuya W Graham L Lewis N Stapleton tries T Carney 6 goals) bt WESTS TIGERS 22 (T Simona 2 J Tedesco B Thompson tries B Marshall 3 goals) at Remondis Stadium. Referees: Matt Cecchin, Ben Cummins. Crowd: 13,843.
It truly was a game of two halves tonight. The Tigers must be wondering what could have been had Marshall found touch after that penalty in the second half when they were storming back. It was a massive turning point, which allowed the Sharks to regroup. Cronulla jump into fourth spot above Manly, who play on Monday night, while the Tigers' slim final hopes look done and dusted now. Thanks for joining us at smh.com.au tonight.
76 min: GAME OVER. Fifita crashes over from close range for his second try. Us NSW fans would dearly love more of the same at ANZ Stadium in 12 days time. Carney makes no mistake with the kick. SHARKS 36-22.
75 min: The hapless Mills grasses another bomb, but the refs miss it. Lucky break for the Sharks.
74 min: How quick is Simona? One of the most improved players in the NRL.
70 min: If Fifita's not scoring tries, he's saving them. Superb effort to bundle winger David Nofoaluma into touch. Fifita has a massive motor - apparently he was second to Beau Ryan in the Sharks' 3km time trial in the pre-season.
68 min: NO TRY! Lawrence denied a try after the video referees uphold referee Matt Cecchin's ruling that a Sharks player had been impeded.
65 min: Tigers hit back straight away, after getting the ball back from a short kick-off. Farah fires a pass out to Chris Lawrence, who catches and passes in one motion to put an unmarked Simona over for his second try. Marshall converts from the sideline. SHARKS 30-22.
61 min: On their third successive set on the Tigers' line, the Sharks score their first try of the half. Lovely cut-out pass from Carney puts Jayson Bukuya over. Carney's kick is successful. SHARKS 30-16.
56 min: What a momentum killer! Tigers receive a penalty but Marshall's kick fails to find touch. Crucial, crucial error.
54 min: The Tigers are well and truly back in business now, after some more Farah magic. Farah chipped on the last tackle, Curtis Sironen won the race and toed the ball ahead, Mills slipped and Tim Simona scored. Marshall converts. Poor Stewie Mills is having a shocker. SHARKS 24-16.
Here come the Tiges!! Not as aggressive early second half defence from Sharks, who looked to have clocked off a bit. — Mark Geyer (@markMGgeyer) July 5, 2013
46 min: The Tigers are in again! Running off a Marshall pass, Bodene Thompson beats three defenders to score. Marshall fails to raise the flags. The Tigers aren't going to lie down, that's for sure. SHARKS 24-10.
43 min: Great start to the second half by the Tigers. Robbie Farah busts out of a Graham tackle and races 45m before offloading to Tedesco, who scores. Marshall converts. SHARKS 24-6.
Gonna be hard to beat @andrewfifita for Try of the Year #NRLcrowst — paul suttor (@paulsuttor) July 5, 2013
Glenn Jackson is covering the game for Fairfax tonight. Here's his thoughts on the first half:
"Andrew Fifita's 53-metre effort against his old club was a highlight
for Cronulla, but the damage had been done beforehand. Fifita's
remarkable try, hussling through a sizeable gap in the Tigers' defence
and stepping fullback James Tedesco, gave the Sharks a 24-0 halftime
lead. They had been dominant from the opening minutes, scoring four
tries. The Tigers defended the Sharks' early onslaught well, but when
the points started, they found it difficult to stop them."
Omg! Fifita from 60 out!! Stop it!!! — Mark Geyer (@markMGgeyer) July 5, 2013
Half-time: It's all the Sharks 24-0. It would be the comeback of the season if the Tigers pulled this match out of the fire. I think they've given the Sharks too much of a start.
35 min: Wonderful individual try by barnstorming prop Andrew Fifita, who races 55m to score against his old club. What an awesome sight Fifita is in full flight. He's the one that got away (literally in this case) from the Tigers. Carney raises the flags. SHARKS 24-0.
30 min: Marshall and Ayshford quickly make amends, though, forcing Jono Wright into touch on the first tackle.
29 min: Not Marshall's night thus far, forward pass to Blake Ayshford 35m out from the Tigers' line.
The only difference between these two teams is kicking, and the 18 point gap shows just how important that is. #NRLcrowst — Dominic Bossi (@DomBossi) July 5, 2013
26 min: Tigers fullback James Tedesco does brilliantly to hold onto a Carney spiral bomb, the second time he's done so tonight. The ball was swirling all over the place but Tedesco never took his eyes off it.
23 min: Sharks fans are loving this, and so they should! Luke Lewis plucks a Carney kick out of the air and scores. Carney makes it three from three. He's got the ball on a string tonight. SHARKS 18-0.
19 min: Brilliant length-of-the-field counterattack results in the Sharks' second try. Carney scoops up a Marshall kick and races 45 metres where he finds Stapleton in support. The winger does the rest, beating two cover defenders and racing 50m. Carney adds the extras. SHARKS 12-0.
17 min: Mills spills another kick, this time a bomb, and the Tigers are back on the attack.
14 min: The Tigers' attack amounts to nothing, however, as Benji Marshall's long pass misses its mark and flies over the sideline.
13 min: Big chance for the Tigers to hit back after stand-in fullback Stewart Mills knocks on a Liam Fulton kick on his line.
9 min: Cronulla open the scoring with a try to Wade Graham, playing his 100th first-grade match. There was a touch of luck to it, with Todd Carney's kick deflecting off Robbie Farah's boot straight into the arms of Graham. Carney converts. SHARKS 6-0.
8 min: Sharks back on attack after Tim Simona was bundled into touch inside the Tigers' 20m.
5 min: Superb defence by the Tigers denies Stapleton a try on the last tackle. Cronulla were camped on the Tigers' line for almost five minutes but couldn't find a way through. Good stuff by the men in orange, black and white.
3 min: Good start by the Sharks, earning a repeat set. The playing surface looks to be remarkable condition despite all the recent rain.
1 min: Tigers kick off at Remondis Stadium, a ground that has had more name changes than the late Elizabeth Taylor had husbands.
In the under-20s, the last-placed Sharks sprung a huge upset, defeating the fifth-placed Tigers 34-22. The young Sharkies broke a seven-match losing streak and reversed a 38-18 defeat in round nine. A good omen? Let's see.
Good evening everyone, I hope you're looking forward to this grudge match at the newly renamed Remondis Stadium as much as I am.
Here are the late changes for both teams:
In: Braith Anasta
Out: Shaun Spence
In: Nathan Stapleton, Stewart Mills, Tyrone Peachey
Out: Beau Ryan, Michael Gordon, Ben Ross
The loss of experienced campaigners Ryan and Gordon in particular is a huge blow to the Sharks' hopes against an improving Tigers side, who will be strengthened by the return of Braith Anasta from two weeks out with a shoulder injury.
Sharks Stadium, Friday 7.35pm (AEST)
Last meeting: Round 9 2013 - Sharks 30 bt Wests Tigers 6 at Allianz Stadium
Head-to-head: Sharks 6 Wests Tigers 15 drawn 1
Referees: Matt Cecchin, Ben Cummins
TV: Channel 9 (live Sydney, delay Brisbane 9.30pm)
TAB Sportsbet: Sharks $1.55 Wests Tigers $2.50
FootyTab: Wests Tigers +5.5
Phil Mitchell writes: No wonder so many former Tigers stars now play with Cronulla – Sharks Stadium has certainly been a happy hunting ground for them over the years. The Tigers have won their past six games in the Shire and humiliated Cronulla a couple of times, most notably 56-10 in 2009. Four members of the Tigers side that day – Beau Ryan, Chris Heighington, Bryce Gibbs and John Morris – have since joined Cronulla, spawning a fierce rivalry between the clubs. The Tigers were no match for the Sharks in round nine at Allianz Stadium but should be far more competitive this time around, having been boosted by the return from injury of centres Chris Lawrence and Blake Ayshford and the emergence of youngsters such as Tim Simona and David Nofoaluma.
Phil's tip: Sharks by four
AAP writes: The Wests Tigers have resurrected their season with four wins from five starts, whereas the Sharks have run into some inconsistency. While Sharks skipper Paul Gallen remains out, they’ll be boosted by the returns of Michael Gordon and Beau Ryan in a reshuffled line-up at home. Many are expecting a big one from the Sharks, who have a swag of ex-Tigers players wanting to prove a point.
Key: While there will be a big battle up front, Benji Marshall is slowly gaining traction. His match-up against the Sharks’ Todd Carney will be worth the price of admission alone.
SHARKS: Stewart Mills, Sosaia Feki, Luke Lewis, Jonathan Wright, Nathan Stapleton, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Andrew Fifita, John Morris, Sam Tagataese, Anthony Tupou, Wade Graham, Chris Heighington. Interchange: Isaac De Gois, Jayson Bukuya, Bryce Gibbs, Tyrone Peachey.
TIGERS: James Tedesco, David Nofoaluma, Blake Ayshford, Chris Lawrence, Tim Simona, Benji Marshall, Curtis Sironen, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah (capt), Adam Blair, Liam Fulton, Bodene Thompson, Suaso Sue. Interchange: Ava Seumanufagai, Jack Buchanan, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Braith Anasta.