Cronulla center Siosifa Talakai has reaffirmed his status as one of the most damaging players in the NRL with an unstoppable performance when the Sharks defeated Manly.
Cronulla rediscovered their form after last week’s loss to Melbourne, with Talakai creating the team’s excellence and taking advantage in a 34-22 win, although all the Sharks’ brilliance was limited to the first half.
Talakai made his NRL debut in 2016 with South Sydney but dropped out of the league after 2017, working as a garbage collector at one point, before being given a train-and-trial opportunity at Cronulla in 2020.
Although his first two seasons with the Sharks were strong, he is making a case for Dally M center of the year in 2022 and he looked good on Thursday night.
The steaming rear scored two tries and added three more as the Sharks stormed to a 32-0 lead at halftime, with all the points coming down Talakai’s left side of the field.
The first points came just 90 seconds into the game, when a shift to the left put Talakai out of his counterpart, Morgan Harper, who was beaten again in the 15 minutes when Matt Moylan gave Talakai an early ball and he passed and through to the tryline sheaf .
He looked set for his hat-trick in the 20th minute when he came back out, but Harper and wing partner Jason Saab held him back, only for the Shark to blast a prodigious ball from the back to Ronaldo Mulitalo to score.
Another shift to the left saw Talakai put Mulitalo on an overlap for the best of the game as Talakai Harper stepped in on the halfway line, charged 40 yards untouched and kept his composure to let fullback Will Kennedy score.
Talakai failed to touch the ball leading up to the final attempt in the closing seconds of the half, but his presence no doubt cast doubt on the mind of the defense and helped the second rower in him, Teig Wilton, to pass untouched. of Nicho Hynes’ short ball.
Talakai and Cronulla’s dominance over their male counterparts was so complete that Des Hasler benched Harper at halftime in favor of young speedster Tolutau Koula.
It wasn’t the only thing that changed for Manly at halftime, with a completely unrecognizable, new energy emerging from the barns and embarking on the seemingly impossible comeback mission with Christian Tuipulotu storming in from close range in the fifth minute of the half.
The hefty striker Taniela Paseka did the same shortly afterwards, followed by hooker Lachlan Croker and Haumole Olakau’atu, with halves Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran co-directing.
But they couldn’t get closer than 10 points, with a late penalty from Sharks and fatigue perhaps slowing their attack as Manly lost their entire bench.
Paseka and Dylan Walker left the game with nasty knee injuries, Andrew Davey landed awkwardly on his shoulder trying to score a late try, and Harper didn’t return.