Sport Rugby League Stapleton bags four tries as Sharks break drought

Stapleton bags four tries as Sharks break drought

Nathan Stapleton
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Cronulla have earned their first win of the NRL season with a 37-6 thrashing of the New Zealand Warriors at Remondis Stadium, with winger Nathan Stapleton scoring four tries.

The Sharks led 16-0 at halftime and continued their try-scoring blitz on Saturday against a hapless and error-prone Warriors, who got worse as the game went on before 11,307 fans.

With halfback Jeff Robson returning from a facial injury for his first game of the year, the Sharks’ attack finally clicked into gear to rack up scoring seven tries – a huge improvement given they had scored just five tries in their previous four games this year.

Robson combined well with halves partner Todd Carney – both of whom were among the Sharks’ best – as was Andrew Fifita, who put his his contract dramas behind him with a barnstorming first half which included 16 hit-ups.

With a strong southerly at their backs in the first half, Cronulla scored first through Stapleton in the 10th minute off a lovely long ball from Carney.

Tinirau Arona crashed over from close range in 16th minute and with Michael Gordon’s conversion, the Sharks led 10-0.

With the home side enjoying 65 per cent of possession due to several Warriors handling errors and up 5-2 in the penalty count, Sam Tagataese scored the Sharks’ third try in the 24th minute.

The Warriors had a chance to score late in the half when they pressed the Sharks line but again came up with a dropped ball.

The second half started in similar fashion to the first when Stapleton scored in the 46th minute off another Carney long ball.

Blake Ayshford scored in the 52nd minute before Stapleton’s third came from a Robson kick for a 30-0 lead.

Carney snapped a 69th minute field goal before he latched onto a Warriors pass one minute late and passed off for Stapleton to race away for his fourth try.

A Manu Vatuvei try in the 79th minute came as little consolation to the Warriors.

The only positive for the woeful Warriors was a Herculean defensive effort from hooker Nathan Friend who made 65 tackles.