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Sharks rout Raiders, spoil Stuart's party

NZN 17/04/2016

Ricky Stuart was in no mood to celebrate his 300th game as an NRL coach, labelling Cronulla's 40-16 thrashing of his Canberra side at home as embarrassing.

Boosted by two tries from form fullback Ben Barba, the Sharks claimed a fourth consecutive win and climbed into third on the ladder, level with the Cowboys and Eels, who also have five wins apiece.

But Stuart was left frustrated that his Raiders had failed to kick on from their impressive 22-8 win over Canterbury two weeks ago.

For the second week in a row they were humbled by one of his former clubs, coming eight days after Parramatta fans taunted him at Pirtek Stadium.

"We've got a winger and a centre showing the whole team how to play," said Stuart.

"It's embarrassing to have that situation.

"We were totally outplayed and dominated in the middle of the football field.

"I haven't seen anything since the Belmore game. That's the disappointing part. We didn't back that up."

Sharks boss Shane Flanagan said that while his team's attack was improving, the win was built on defence.

"I think we're developing," Flanagan said. "We're improving week after week but there's still a lot of improvement in us."

In the ninth minute, Canberra hooker Josh Hodgson chased his own kick into the Cronulla in-goal and was clearly held back by Cronulla's Andrew Fifita.

But the match officials missed the incident and it was a turning point from which the Raiders failed to recover.

Barba dotted down for a Bunker-approved try within a minute after he grounded a kick just short of the dead-ball line.

James Maloney converted and at 19 minutes, Cronulla centre Jack Bird pushed past Jarrod Croker to touch down off a Barba pass.

Maloney booted his second conversion and that was the end of the scoring in a first half that also included a disallowed Sosaia Feki try.

Cronulla were warned for spoiling tactics in defence but kept their full complement on the field while Canberra made a slew of errors in enemy territory.

The second half was only two minutes old when Fijian international Jayson Bukuya forced his way over from close range. The score was going up in increments of six with Maloney adding the extras with nonchalance.

A two-try revival for Canberra midway through the second half proved short-lived, with Sharks winger Valentine Holmes killing the comeback with his 63rd minute touchdown.

The Shire side scored two more tries in the run to fulltime with Matt Prior scoring in the 76th minute before Maloney got in on the act in the 79th.

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