The Sea Eagles will head into next week’s Auckland Nines tournament having brushed off the cobwebs after a tough first trial against the Sharks at Remondis Stadium.
Despite the 24-12 defeat, the Sea Eagles were able to flex their muscles in their first hit-out for 2014.
After months of tireless pre-season training, the match was a refreshing change to their routine training schedule.
Coach Geoff Toovey opted to rest his most valued players until the second half, with a number of first-grade hopefuls given a chance to showcase their talent.
Five-eighth Manaia Rudolph opened the scoring inside the opening 10 minutes as he ducked under the Cronulla defence to record his first points in the maroon and white.
With plenty to prove, the Sea Eagles new recruits and gifted juniors on a solid display in the first half, showing their enthusiasm and ability as the coach watched on.
Cronulla were able to cross the line twice through young gun Fa’Amanu Brown and Eric Growthe Junior before half time to take a four-point lead into the break.
The second half saw both teams field their strongest side, and it was fullback Brett Stewart who made an immediate impact, laying on a lovely cut-out pass to centre Jamie Lyon who crossed over almost unscathed.
Ricky Leutele was able to crash his way over the line to hand his side the lead again, but when Kieran Foran kick was knocked back by Peta Hiku to a waiting Cheyse Blair to put down, the scores were back on level terms, 12-all.
The Sharks then dominated the majority of field possession and were able to put three quick tries past the Sea Eagles to blow the game out of reach.
Wade Graham grabbed himself a four pointer before Ricky Leutele bagged his second. With minutes on the clock, the Sharks scored again through Valentine Holmes to seal a deserved 24-12 victory.