League: Stuart gets another one over his great adversary

NRL
Sharks 13
Broncos 6

Ricky Stuart has a reputation as a fierce competitor and this usually steps up a notch when he takes on great adversary Wayne Bennett.

Eight days after his Australian side dispatched the Kiwis with Bennett riding in the co-pilot's seat, he got another one over his great rival last night in a result that was the Sharks' first win at home this season.

All things considered, they should have.

Although the Sharks were missing their two best and most influential players in Paul Gallen and Greg Bird due to State of Origin, the Broncos were without six players, as well as injured skipper and five-eighth Darren Lockyer.

When it comes to Origin time, it's often a matter of survival for Bennett and the Broncos and last night, they couldn't cope without their bevy of stars.

They certainly started well enough and took a 6-4 lead to the break. They deserved to be further ahead, largely thanks to hooker Michael Ennis who seemingly decided to take control of the match in the absence of his esteemed colleagues.

He worried the Sharks' defence close to the line and his grubber was finally cleaned up by lock-jawed lock Tonie Carroll in the 18th minute.

The match lacked quality without the Origin players and the Broncos easily dealt with a limited Sharks attack that also suffered from a bad case of poor handling.

On the stroke of halftime, however, Brett Kimmorley, playing his first game since signing with the Bulldogs for next season, fired a beautiful cut-out pass for Misi Taulapapa to score.

The Sharks attacked their work with more vigour in the second spell. They ran with more purpose, tackled with more venom (the watching Gallen would have been proud) and their kick chases were a significant step up.

The pressure told and, after a Luke Covell penalty evened things up at 6-6, fullback Brett Kearney crossed for a converted try from a signature Sharks move from a scrum close to the line.

It seemed to spark the Broncos back into action and they constantly threatened the Sharks' line, only to drop the ball as the error count mounted.

Kimmorley finally put them out of their misery with a 77th-minute field goal that left Stuart with another broad smile.

Sharks 13 (M. Taulapapa, B Kearney tries, L. Covell 2 gls, B. Kimmorley field goal) Broncos 6 (T Carroll try, M Ennis gl). HT: 4-6.

- Herald on Sunday

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