In somewhat of a scrappy game, it was the Cronulla Sharks who came out smiling as they defeated the New Zealand Warriors away from home to start their season on a high.

The first round had not been a happy one in recent years for the Sharks, losing nine of their last ten in the opening round but defensive resolve and ticker got the Sharks over the line.

The first try went to the Warriors and it was a carbon copy of 2023 as Wayde Egan found a barging Addin Fonua-Blake from dummy half to crash over and score.

Within 12 minutes, the Warriors had a second and went up by as many points, after Luke Metcalf stepped and weaved his way over to score.

The Sharks first points only came late in the first half when Jesse Ramien burrowed his way over from dummy half despite heavy attention from defenders.

That would give them some renewed confidence, however, as they scored after one minute of the second; a simple sweep play for Siosifa Talakai to find Ronaldo Mulitalo.

The edge of Talakai and Mulitalo would pay dividends again as the roles reversed; Talakai the scorer, Mulitalo the assist.

Try as they might, it was a disappointing round for the Warriors who would have wanted a better start at home.

The only blip is that Braydon Trindall may face a nervous wait for a high tackle.

Warriors coach Andrew Webster did not mince his words; his side was just not good enough.

“Our first 20 mins was outstanding, our style of play, what we were doing… we invited them back into the game and I felt like the period after half-time was really poor, our defence, our ruck control, just wasn’t good enough,” Webster said.

Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon was full of praise and proudness for his side their resilience.

“Not much went our way, we had to fight for everything,” Fitzgibbon said.

“Really proud of the boys’ efforts, we capitalised on all the hard work we’ve done this pre-season.”

Cronulla Sharks 16 (Ramien, Mulitalo, Talakai; Goals: Trindall 2) def. New Zealand Warriors 12 (Fonua-Blake, Metcalf; Goals: Johnson 2).

NRL News Player of the Year

3. Ronaldo Mulitalo (CRO)

2. Tohu Harris (WAR)

1. Siosifa Talakai (CRO)

By ricky

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