Top 5 at Five: Shark Park Victories
Wests Tigers will return to Shark Park (now known as Southern Cross Group Stadium) this Saturday night for the first time since Round 24, 2015 as they look to bounce back from a run of tough defeats against the in-form Cronulla Sharks.
And while they might have gone down to the home side on their last trip to the Shire, remarkably, the venue has been a happy hunting ground for Wests Tigers over the years — winning seven of their last nine trips there and eight of the 13 games all up.
With that in mind, this week we count down the top five victories against the Sharks at the current Southern Cross Group Stadium, proudly brought to you by ShareCare.
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5. 2014, Round 10 — Wests Tigers 22 def. Cronulla Sharks 20
With James Tedesco sidelined, Wests Tigers welcomed back Robbie Farah from injury for a crucial clash against the Sharks heading into the first bye round of the year, and soon found themselves locked in a tight battle against the home side. Tries to David Nofoaluma and Pat Richards in the first half gave the visitors a slender 10-8 lead at the break, before a blistering 10-minute spell from Paul Gallen put the hosts back in front — scoring a try himself and setting up Michael Gordon to give the Sharks a 20-10 lead. With all the momentum on their side, it looked as if Cronulla would run away with a comfortable victory, before rookie halfback Luke Brooks stepped up — laying on a lovely short ball for Cory Paterson to cross before breaking the Sharks’ defensive line down the short side and drawing the fullback for Chris Lawrence to stroll over. That would put Wests Tigers back in front once again by two points — a lead which Mick Potter’s side would hold on to in the final stanza of the match to emerge victorious.
4. 2011, Round 26 — Wests Tigers 30 def. Cronulla Sharks 22
With a finals spot all locked up, Wests Tigers went in to their Round 26 clash against the Sharks still needing a win to secure an all-important top four finish and a crack at a home semi-final. They would come up against a determined Cronulla side, however, eager to make captain Paul Gallen’s 200th NRL game a memorable one. That determination shone through on the night with Wests Tigers pulling away on a number of occasions only to be reeled in by the home side, with the match hanging in the balance at 26-22 inside the final minutes of the match. But up stepped Robbie Farah, who had already crossed for two tries on the night, with his third individual effort in the 77th minute ensuring Wests Tigers a top four spot and a 30-22 victory.
3. 2005, Round 21 — Wests Tigers 46 def. Cronulla Sharks 6
Full of momentum after four straight victories in what would later be looked back on as one of the most incredible runs to the finals in NRL history, Wests Tigers touched down in the Shine on a sunny Sunday afternoon looking to continue their good run of form against the Sharks. And while the first half was a relatively tight affair with Wests Tigers leading 12-6 at the break, a Benji Marshall masterclass — which included one of the most iconic try creations in history — throughout the second half ensured a dominant win for the visitors, running out 46-6 winners for their biggest ever victory over the Sharks at the time. Fellow halfback Scott Prince also grabbed his first hat-trick in Wests Tigers colours, while fullback Brett Hodgson kicked seven goals from eight attempts.
2. 2007, Round 23 — Wests Tigers 29 def. Cronulla Sharks 28
After missing the finals series in 2006, Wests Tigers went in to their Round 23 clash against the Cronulla Sharks needing to win to keep their top eight hopes alive — hanging on the edge of the top eight only on for-and-against. Trailing 18-4 at half-time, it didn’t look good for Tim Sheens’ side, before a blistering start to the second half saw the visitors run in four tries in 13 minutes to incredibly lead 28-18. But that was only the start of the twists, with the home side rallying again through Misi Taulapapa and Luke Covell to level the match at 28-all heading in to the final minutes. Having only just passed a fitness test that morning, it was Robbie Farah who proved the difference in the end for Wests Tigers — nailing a wobbly field goal in the final minute of the game to keep the visitors in the top eight with a gutsy one-point win.
1. 2009, Round 23 — Wests Tigers 56 def. Cronulla Sharks 10
As thrilling as that game might have been, however, the Club’s biggest ever win over the Cronulla Sharks — and highest ever score in a game against any team — came against the boys from the Shire back in Round 23, 2009 in Benji Marshall’s 100th career game. In what would be a memorable celebration game for the Kiwi five-eighth, Marshall tallied 24 points in total as his side ran in nine tries for their sixth win in a row, while Taniela Tuiaki grabbed a hat-trick — giving him the Club record for most tries in a season (21). Marshall grabbed a double himself while having a hand in a number of others, as Blake Ayshford (2), Beau Ryan (2) and Tim Moltzen all crossed for four-pointers.