Cronulla have improved to seventh spot and ended the Warriors’ slim NRL finals hopes with a clinical 42-16 win at PointsBet Stadium.
The Sharks were rarely troubled in Matt Prior’s 250th first grade game as they raced in four tries in the first half and three more after the break to move to 24 competition points with two rounds remaining.
Former Warrior Shaun Johnson tormented his old teammates with a dominant display as the playmaker moved past 1000 career points on a day that saw him kick seven goals and set up two tries.
It didn’t take long for the rout to get underway as Paul Gallen broke free in his penultimate home game allowing young gun Bronson Xerri to score in the opening minute.
Patrick Herbert hit back seven minutes later for the Warriors after some nice work from David Fusitua, but the Cronulla right edge weren’t to be outdone as Ronaldo Mulitalo produced a magical flick pass to set up veteran Josh Morris.
Fullback Josh Dugan then produced a solo finish in the left hand corner, and while Isaiah Papali’i pulled one back for the visitors, Briton Nikora sliced through off a Johnson short ball to cap off a dominant first 40 minutes.
The change of ends did little to disrupt the Sharks momentum as Braden Hamlin- Uele powered through some flimsy defence to take the score to 30-10 before Mulitalo edged out Dugan in pursuit of a Xerri grubber to further increase the buffer.
Skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck ensured the Warriors faithful had brief respite on an otherwise forgettable afternoon when he sent Fusitua over with a magnificent cut-out pass.
But that was one of the few bright spots as Morris punished a midfield error to power away for his double as the Sharks cruised to a crucial victory that has them in the box seat to earn a spot in the top eight.
However, Cronulla’s victory was tempered by injuries to winger Sosaia Feki (groin) and interchange forward Jack Williams (foot).
The pair were both replaced in the first half and are expected to be in doubt for next week’s clash with Canberra, although fullback Matt Moylan should return from injury.