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MATCH REPORT | Golden point heartbreaker

Richard Becht | Image: www.photosport.nz

James Maloney denied his former club ultimate glory in an epic golden point contest between the Vodafone Warriors and Cronulla at Southern Cross Group Stadium tonight.

The Vodafone Warriors, on a three-game winning run, took the competition leading Sharks all the way until Maloney's wobbly 87th-minute field goal consigned them to a cruel 18-19 loss in an exhausting 16th-round battle.

This was always going to be the Vodafone Warriors' sternest test of the season so far even though they had played Brisbane and Melbourne when they were in top form earlier in the campaign.

Head coach Andrew McFadden had made line-up changes which saw David Fusitu'a go to fullback, Jonathan Wright onto the right wing and regular fullback Tuimoala Lolohea onto the bench.

The Vodafone Warriors struggled to find cohesion early on with a succession or errors giving the Sharks plenty of possession and field position. They asked plenty of questions, too, with Simon Mannering's defensive skills - and heart - on show as he made two try-saving tackles in quick succession, superbly so on Maloney near the posts.

Once they settled down the Vodafone Warriors began to make some gains, defusing kicks well and making big ground gains in possession especially through big-striding left wing Ken Maumalo.

In the 21st minute they hit the right, Shaun Johnson linking with Fusitu'a running into a huge hole and then switching slickly inside for centre Blake Ayshford to score against his old club.

Fullback Ben Barba raced away soon after for a would-be try but closer inspection confirmed suspicions that there had been a knock-on back upfield negating the try.

The Vodafone Warriors immediately profited by converting their 6-0 lead into a 10-0 advantage with some sweet hands involved as Bodene Thompson, Johnson, and Ayshford all combined to also give Wright a try against his former club.

A third try was in the offing when Barba failed to clean up a deft Johnson grubber, Wright sneaking around behind but not able to get downward pressure on the ball.

Having worked so hard to get a hold on the contest, the Vodafone Warriors faltered three times either side of halftime and conceded three tries.

They turned the ball over, found themselves defending repeat sets and couldn't check Michael Ennis as he dummied and spun his way over the line, adding in a selfie celebration pose to rub it in.

Another error right on halftime was expensive, the Sharks going to their left where Ricky Leutele was somehow able to reach out to score despite the attention of multiple defenders. Maloney spliced the uprights from wide out for a 12-10 lead at the break.

In the opening minutes of the second spell a shift right opened up a another oppotunity for the Vodafone Warriors but the final pass to Wright was put down.

From the error and a penalty soon after the Sharks were on attack, Ennis pushing through a grubber into the in-goal area with Jayson Bukuya looking to chase it down.

In the process he appeared to be impeded by Mannering, the bunker concurring. Rather than a penalty and a sin binning for a professional foul, the decision went a step further with a penalty try being awarded. Maloney's conversion stretched the lead to 18-10 after 47 minutes.

Soon after there were concerns about Johnson as he appeared to be struggling with his thigh injury. He battled on, though.

The Vodafone Warriors needed to be the next to score and they delivered on the 57-minute mark. Heading left an Albert Vete off load kept the play going with Thomas Leuluai powering up, going low, and stretching out to just get a slice of the line for his first try of the season. It couldn't have come at a more important time. Luke converted and the margin was now just two with Cronulla leading 18-16.

The Sharks came back menacingly at the Vodafone Warriors, Barba was so close to scoring and Chad Townsend had also been denied by a brilliant Fusitu'a try-saver.

Into the closing stages the match went, the Vodafone Warriors in good ball with Sam Lisone hitting it up towards the posts. He was held down and from the penalty Luke made it 18-18.

So the brave Vodafone Warriors headed into golden point extra time against the competition leaders. The players were near exhaustion but summoned up the inner will.

Cronulla had a chance to win through a field goal but he hit it wide to the left and Townsend broke clear and had an unmarked Barba in support for what would have been the winning try - but mercifully Barba spilled the pass.

In the final seconds of the first five-minute period the Vodafone Warriors had a sniff on the left. They were rounded up and turned around for a second five minutes.

Cruelly for them it all ended in the 87th minute when Maloney put over his invaluable one-pointer to seal an 11th straight winner.

The Vodafone Warriors will rue the lost chance of a vital victory but might also reflect on the way in which they competed with the competition's top side so far this season.

 

MATCH DETAILS

Southern Cross Group Stadium, Cronulla

Cronulla Sharks 19 (Michael Ennis, Ricky Leutele, Jayson Bukuya tries; James Maloney 3 conversions, field goal).

Vodafone Warriors 18 (Blake Ayshford, Jonathan Wright, Thomas Leuluai tries; Issac Luke 2 conversions, penalty).

Halftime: 12-10 Sharks.

Referees: Grant Atkins and Matt Noyen.

Vodafone Warriors | David Fusitu'a; Jonathan Wright, Blake Ayshford, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo; Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson; Jacob Lillyman, Issac Luke, Albert Vete; Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman (c); Simon Mannering. Interchange: Tuimoala Lolohea, Sam Lisone, Ben Matulino, Charlie Gubb.

 

A third try was in the offing when Barba failed to clean up a deft Johnson grubber, Wright sneaking around behind but not able to get downward pressure on the ball.

Having worked so hard to get a hold on the contest, the Vodafone Warriors faltered three times either side of halftime and conceded three tries.

They turned the ball over, found themselves defending repeat sets and couldn't check Michael Ennis as he dummied and spun his way over the line, adding in an audacious selfie celebration pose to rub it in.

Another error right on halftime was expensive, the Sharks going to their left where Ricky Leutele was somehow able to reach out to score despite the attention of multiple defenders. James Maloney spliced the upright from wide out for a 12-10 lead at the break.

In the opening minutes of the second spell a shift right opened up an opportunity for Wright to score a second but the final pass was put down.

From the error and a penalty soon after the Sharks were on attack, Ennis pushing through a grubber into the in-goal area with Jayson Bukuya looking to chase it down. In the process, though, he appeared to be impeded by Mannering, the bunker concurring. Rather than a penalty and perhaps a sin binning for a professional four, the decision went a step further with a penalty try being awarded. Maloney's conversion stretched the lead to 18-10 after 47 minutes.

Soon after there were concerns about Johnson as he appeared to be struggling with his thigh injury. He battled on, though.

The Vodafone Warriors needed to be the next to score and they delivered on the 57-minute mark, heading to the left an Albert Vete off load kept the play going with Thomas Leuluai powering up, going low, and stretching out to just get a slice of the line for his first try of the season. It couldn't have come at a more important time. Luke converted and the margin was now just two with Cronulla leading 18-16.

Barba was so close to scoring but Fusitu'a brilliantly held him up.

Into the closing stages the match went, the Vodafone Warriors in good ball with Sam Lisone hitting it up towards the posts. He was held down and from the penalty Luke made it 18-18.

So the brave Vodafone Warriors headed into golden point extra time against the competition leaders. The players were near exhaustion but summoned up the inner will.

Cronulla had a chance to win through a Chad Townsend field goal but he hit it wide to the left.

Townsend broke clear and had an unmarked Barba in support for what would have been the winning try - but mercifully he spilled the pass.

In the final seconds of the first five-minute period the Vodafone Warriors had a sniff on the left. They were rounded up and turned around for a second five minutes.

Cruelly for them it all ended in the 87th minute when Maloney put over a wobbly but invaluable one-pointer to seal an 11th straight winner.

 

 

Lisone earns penalty

Six minutes later 6-0 became 10-0 with great hands on the right

 

 

 

MATCH DETAILS

Southern Cross Group Stadium, Cronulla

Cronulla Sharks 18 (Michael Ennis, Ricky Leutele, Jayson Bukuya tries; James Maloney 3 conversions).

Vodafone Warriors 10 (Blake Ayshford, Jonathan Wright tries; Issac Luke conversion).

Halftime: 12-10 Sharks.

Referees: Grant Atkins and Matt Noyen.

Crowd: .

Vodafone Warriors | David Fusitu'a; Jonathan Wright, Blake Ayshford, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo; Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson; Jacob Lillyman, Issac Luke, Albert Vete; Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman (c); Simon Mannering. Interchange: Tuimoala Lolohea, Sam Lisone, Ben Matulino, Charlie Gubb. 

 

There was no question this was going to be the Vodafone Warriors' sternest test of the season so far even though they had played Brisbane and Melbourne when they were in top form earlier in the campaign.

Head coach Andrew McFadden had made line-up changes which saw David Fusitu'a go to fullback, Jonathan Wright onto the right wing and regular fullback Tuimoala Lolohea onto the bench.

The Vodafone Warriors struggled to find cohesion early on with a succession or errors giving the Sharks plenty of possession and field position. Cronulla asked plenty of questions, Simon Mannering's defensive skills - and heart - on show as he made two try-saving tackles in quick succession.

Once they settled down the Vodafone Warriors began to make some gains, defusing kicks well and making big ground gains in possession especially through big-striding left wing Ken Maumalo.

In the 21st minute they hit the right, Shaun Johnson linking with Fusitu'a running into a huge hole and then switching slickly inside for centre Blacke Ayshford to score against his old club.

Fullback Ben Barba raced away soon for a would-be try but closer inspection confirmed suspicions that there had been a knock-on back upfield negating the try.

The Vodafone Warriors immediately profited by converting their 6-0 lead into a 10-0 advantage with some sweet hands involved as Bodene Thompson, Johnson, and Ayshford all combined to also give Wright a try against his former club.

A third try was in the offing when Barba failed to clean up a deft Johnson grubber, Wright sneaking around behind but not able to get downward pressure on the ball.

Having worked so hard to get a hold on the contest, the Vodafone Warriors faltered three times either side of halftime and conceded three tries.

They turned the ball over, found themselves defending repeat sets and couldn't check Michael Ennis as he dummied and spun his way over the line, adding in an audacious selfie celebration pose to rub it in.

Another error right on halftime was expensive, the Sharks going to their left where Ricky Leutele was somehow able to reach out to score despite the attention of multiple defenders. James Maloney spliced the upright from wide out for a 12-10 lead at the break.

In the opening minutes of the second spell a shift right opened up an opportunity for Wright to score a second but the final pass was put down.

From the error and a penalty soon after the Sharks were on attack, Ennis pushing through a grubber into the in-goal area with Jayson Bukuya looking to chase it down. In the process, though, he appeared to be impeded by Mannering, the bunker concurring. Rather than a penalty and perhaps a sin binning for a professional four, the decision went a step further with a penalty try being awarded. Maloney's conversion stretched the lead to 18-10 after 47 minutes.

Soon after there were concerns about Johnson as he appeared to be struggling with his thigh injury. He battled on, though.

The Vodafone Warriors needed to be the next to score and they delivered on the 57-minute mark, heading to the left an Albert Vete off load kept the play going with Thomas Leuluai powering up, going low, and stretching out to just get a slice of the line for his first try of the season. It couldn't have come at a more important time. Luke converted and the margin was now just two with Cronulla leading 18-16.

Barba was so close to scoring but Fusitu'a brilliantly held him up.

Into the closing stages the match went, the Vodafone Warriors in good ball with Sam Lisone hitting it up towards the posts. He was held down and from the penalty Luke made it 18-18.

So the brave Vodafone Warriors headed into golden point extra time against the competition leaders. The players were near exhaustion but summoned up the inner will.

Cronulla had a chance to win through a Chad Townsend field goal but he hit it wide to the left.

Townsend broke clear and had an unmarked Barba in support for what would have been the winning try - but mercifully he spilled the pass.

In the final seconds of the first five-minute period the Vodafone Warriors had a sniff on the left. They were rounded up and turned around for a second five minutes.

Cruelly for them it all ended in the 87th minute when Maloney put over a wobbly but invaluable one-pointer to seal an 11th straight winner.

 

 

Lisone earns penalty

Six minutes later 6-0 became 10-0 with great hands on the right

 

 

 

MATCH DETAILS

Southern Cross Group Stadium, Cronulla

Cronulla Sharks 18 (Michael Ennis, Ricky Leutele, Jayson Bukuya tries; James Maloney 3 conversions).

Vodafone Warriors 10 (Blake Ayshford, Jonathan Wright tries; Issac Luke conversion).

Halftime: 12-10 Sharks.

Referees: Grant Atkins and Matt Noyen.

Crowd: .

Vodafone Warriors | David Fusitu'a; Jonathan Wright, Blake Ayshford, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo; Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson; Jacob Lillyman, Issac Luke, Albert Vete; Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman (c); Simon Mannering. Interchange: Tuimoala Lolohea, Sam Lisone, Ben Matulino, Charlie Gubb. 

 

There was no question this was going to be the Vodafone Warriors' sternest test of the season so far even though they had played Brisbane and Melbourne when they were in top form earlier in the campaign.

Head coach Andrew McFadden had made line-up changes which saw David Fusitu'a go to fullback, Jonathan Wright onto the right wing and regular fullback Tuimoala Lolohea onto the bench.

The Vodafone Warriors struggled to find cohesion early on with a succession or errors giving the Sharks plenty of possession and field position. Cronulla asked plenty of questions, Simon Mannering's defensive skills - and heart - on show as he made two try-saving tackles in quick succession.

Once they settled down the Vodafone Warriors began to make some gains, defusing kicks well and making big ground gains in possession especially through big-striding left wing Ken Maumalo.

In the 21st minute they hit the right, Shaun Johnson linking with Fusitu'a running into a huge hole and then switching slickly inside for centre Blacke Ayshford to score against his old club.

Fullback Ben Barba raced away soon for a would-be try but closer inspection confirmed suspicions that there had been a knock-on back upfield negating the try.

The Vodafone Warriors immediately profited by converting their 6-0 lead into a 10-0 advantage with some sweet hands involved as Bodene Thompson, Johnson, and Ayshford all combined to also give Wright a try against his former club.

A third try was in the offing when Barba failed to clean up a deft Johnson grubber, Wright sneaking around behind but not able to get downward pressure on the ball.

Having worked so hard to get a hold on the contest, the Vodafone Warriors faltered three times either side of halftime and conceded three tries.

They turned the ball over, found themselves defending repeat sets and couldn't check Michael Ennis as he dummied and spun his way over the line, adding in an audacious selfie celebration pose to rub it in.

Another error right on halftime was expensive, the Sharks going to their left where Ricky Leutele was somehow able to reach out to score despite the attention of multiple defenders. James Maloney spliced the upright from wide out for a 12-10 lead at the break.

In the opening minutes of the second spell a shift right opened up an opportunity for Wright to score a second but the final pass was put down.

From the error and a penalty soon after the Sharks were on attack, Ennis pushing through a grubber into the in-goal area with Jayson Bukuya looking to chase it down. In the process, though, he appeared to be impeded by Mannering, the bunker concurring. Rather than a penalty and perhaps a sin binning for a professional four, the decision went a step further with a penalty try being awarded. Maloney's conversion stretched the lead to 18-10 after 47 minutes.

Soon after there were concerns about Johnson as he appeared to be struggling with his thigh injury. He battled on, though.

The Vodafone Warriors needed to be the next to score and they delivered on the 57-minute mark, heading to the left an Albert Vete off load kept the play going with Thomas Leuluai powering up, going low, and stretching out to just get a slice of the line for his first try of the season. It couldn't have come at a more important time. Luke converted and the margin was now just two with Cronulla leading 18-16.

Barba was so close to scoring but Fusitu'a brilliantly held him up.

Into the closing stages the match went, the Vodafone Warriors in good ball with Sam Lisone hitting it up towards the posts. He was held down and from the penalty Luke made it 18-18.

So the brave Vodafone Warriors headed into golden point extra time against the competition leaders. The players were near exhaustion but summoned up the inner will.

Cronulla had a chance to win through a Chad Townsend field goal but he hit it wide to the left.

Townsend broke clear and had an unmarked Barba in support for what would have been the winning try - but mercifully he spilled the pass.

In the final seconds of the first five-minute period the Vodafone Warriors had a sniff on the left. They were rounded up and turned around for a second five minutes.

Cruelly for them it all ended in the 87th minute when Maloney put over a wobbly but invaluable one-pointer to seal an 11th straight winner.

 

 

Lisone earns penalty

Six minutes later 6-0 became 10-0 with great hands on the right

 

 

 

MATCH DETAILS

Southern Cross Group Stadium, Cronulla

Cronulla Sharks 18 (Michael Ennis, Ricky Leutele, Jayson Bukuya tries; James Maloney 3 conversions).

Vodafone Warriors 10 (Blake Ayshford, Jonathan Wright tries; Issac Luke conversion).

Halftime: 12-10 Sharks.

Referees: Grant Atkins and Matt Noyen.

Crowd: .

Vodafone Warriors | David Fusitu'a; Jonathan Wright, Blake Ayshford, Solomone Kata, Ken Maumalo; Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson; Jacob Lillyman, Issac Luke, Albert Vete; Bodene Thompson, Ryan Hoffman (c); Simon Mannering. Interchange: Tuimoala Lolohea, Sam Lisone, Ben Matulino, Charlie Gubb.