It was cool hand Brett tonight, as star halfback Brett Kimmorley guided his Cronulla Sharks team to a gutsyÂ 13-6 NRL victory over the Broncos at Toyota Stadium
In typical Cronulla style, the Sharks dug deep and fought their way to a small lead at a cold, wet Shark Park in Sydney tonight. Kimmorley could have been forgiven for having his mind on his newÂ contract with the Bulldogs, but led the way and spoke of the dangers of this game through-out the week with his fellow players.
SharksÂ boss Ricky Stuart confirmed his captain had made a speech during a recent team camp in Kiama to make sure his side’s attitude was right coming into a clash against a Broncos outfit missing eight regular first-graders.
â€œHe came forward, which takes a little bit of courage,â€ Stuart said.
â€œHe came forward and said that deep down he was thinking we should get this game because they’re going to have so many out, but when he read the team he saw they were a good footy team still.â€
Kimmorley backed it up at Toyota Park with two crucial plays but on a mixed night he also blew a try with the line wide open.
The halfback laid on a first-half try for winger Misi Taulapapa and put the result beyond doubt with a late field goal to lead a far from polished Sharks side to victory.
Stuart lauded his side’s courage after they repelled a first half Broncos onslaught aided by a stiff breeze.
â€œEveryone knows we’re a tough mob,â€ he said. â€œWe’ve got a real spirit within. The last three weeks have probably been our best football.
â€œ(This) was probably mentally our toughest game, to endure that pressure in the first half it basically set up the win for us.
â€œI said (at halftime), ‘You’ve just won your game of football if you can sustain your energy for 80 minutes.’â€
While the Broncos were minus six State of Origin reps and injured skipper Darren Lockyer, the Sharks were without â€œbruise brothersâ€ Paul Gallen and Greg Bird who will play for NSW on Wednesday night.
Cronulla’s points came through tries to Taulapapa and Brett Kearney while Luke Covell booted two goals and Kimmorley his one-pointer in front of 13, 431 brave fans on a cold and sometime wet night.
For Brisbane, Tonie Carroll scored a first-half try and Michael Ennis kicked a goal.
Brisbane led 6-4 at halftime, but the Sharks turned the tide after the break.
Kimmorley blew a golden opportunity just two minutes into the second half when he spilled a pass with the line wide open after Brett Seymour had made a bust.
But the Sharks levelled it up with a 48th minute penalty goal from Covell before Seymour superbly turned a ball inside from a scrum and sent outstanding fullback Kearney through a hole to the line for a 12-6 lead.
But Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett wasn’t convinced referee Jared Maxwell’s knock-on call which led to the scrum had been correct.
â€œIt was a tough call of the ref’s about the knock-on there and they got the scrum to score off that,â€ he said.
Kimmorley missed an opportunity to make the margin seven when he missed a field goal attempt at point blank range in the 69th minute. But he made no mistake in the 76th to ensure the win.
In the first half, the halfback sent a superb cut-out ball to Taulapapa who received just reward for a powerhouse game by crashing over.
â€œThat 10 minutes after halftime we made a lot of little errors we haven’t been making,â€ Bennett said.
â€œOur lack of discipline cost us, it really boils down to that. Maybe (we were) a bit anxious, a bit of anxiety thinking that we’ve got to compensate for players that aren’t there.â€