Carney continues his winning form
Sharks 20 Warriors 19
Mobbed ... Jeff Robson is congratulated after touching down. Photo: Getty Images
CRONULLA five-eighth Todd Carney arrived at Shark Park for last night's match against the New Zealand Warriors determined to "turn up" for his teammates and to also build upon Wednesday's winning State of Origin effort for NSW.
He didn't let himself down by making several decisive plays that helped the home team claw its way back from 19-8 down with 10 minutes remaining to storm home for a thrilling 20-19 victory.
Big week ... Todd Carney kicks ahead. Photo: Getty Images
Carney was in the thick of it all, but his 40-20 kick, which was launched as he was nailed in a heavy tackle in the 71st minute, proved crucial.
The kick followed the try he had helped to set up two minutes earlier for his halves partner Jeff Robson. With it, the momentum shifted in the Sharks' favour and they rode it. Robson made the most of his shot to help win the game by dummy passing before he cut through the try-line defence.
Carney's conversion was straight and true and provided Cronulla with their win. It also gave the star pivot extra reason to celebrate an impressive performance.
Held ... Bryce Gibbs of the Sharks is wrapped up by the Warriors defence. Photo: Getty Images
"I wanted to turn up and play the best I could and work on from Wednesday and continue my form for the Sharks," Carney said. "Obviously it's a completely different role when I come back here and I just wanted to play the best I could for the boys … [an] uncharacteristic error early in the game with the kick out on the full, but I thought I bounced back with the kicking game.
"I thought Robbo [Robson] was great, he controlled the team really well on the back of that go-forward late in the second half. I think that's what won it for us."
The Sharks were without their man-of-mettle Paul Gallen, Andrew Fifita and Wade Graham, and they were forced to dig deep when the Warriors threw everything they had left in them to try to regain the lead with the clock ticking down.
The Mack truck-like Konrad Hurrell was prevented from scoring what would've been his second try when he was held up as he tried to burrow over the try line at the death.
Warriors pivot James Maloney played like a man with a point to prove. The NSW country-born five-eighth was identified as a contender for the sky blue Origin jumper early in the season but fell by the wayside when Carney dominated the premiership.
He used last night's duel to unleash a precision-plus kicking game and made some smart calls, which included running the ball on the fifth tackle near Cronulla's line to send Hurrell barging over for what seemed the match-sealing try.
"He's tough," Carney said of Maloney. "He pulled away with some vital plays. Obviously the field goal straight after their try [to make the score 13-6] was a smart play."
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan described it as a good win but was alarmed by contentious refereeing calls he called "four clangers" and said made winning even harder.
The Warriors' rookie winger Omar Slaimankhel needed only five minutes into his top-grade debut to learn how unforgiving an arena the big time is. Slaimankhel fumbled the slippery ball close to his try line. He watched on in horror as Sharks winger Isaac Gordon swooped on it and sent centre Ben Pomeroy on his way for a hard-fought try.
Warriors coach Brian McClennan said he was impressed by the way the 20-year-old recovered to play strongly.
CRONULLA 20 (J Robson 2 B Pomeroy tries T Carney 4 goals) bt WARRIORS 19 (K Hurrell S Johnson K Locke tries J Maloney 3 goals J Maloney field goal) at Toyota Stadium. Referee: Steve Lyons, Ashley Klein. Crowd: 9,271.