Sharks 'fall asleep' in second half and lose qualifying final


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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The Sharks could not maintain their ferocity and lost in an upset to the Innisfail Leprechauns. Image: Patrick McCarthy.

It is a result they will rue until the start of the 2020 season and the biggest question – how did the Mossman-Port Douglas Sharks Rugby League team squander a 22-6 half-time lead only to lose 32-26 to the Innisfail Leprechauns in this Qualifying Final – will linger like a bad dream.

But all is not lost for the Sharks, who this year won the Minor Premiers and the Premiership last year, for the first time in 20 years, and will now meet Atherton at Barlow Park on Sunday in the preliminary final.

Atherton advanced to the preliminary final after a 32-26 victory over Yarrabah Seahawks.

Sharks coach Brian Murgha concedes his players literally fell asleep in the second half.

“But we have every opportunity to redeem ourselves. If we beat Atherton we will play Innisfail in the final and this is what we need to concentrate on,” said Murgha.

Murgha said there were a number of 50-50 calls which went against Mossman and this impacted the players.
“We somehow found ourselves in a hole which we could not get out of. But we cannot hide from the fact that we did not ‘come out’ for the second half and we paid the price,” he said.

It was a cock-a-hoop Sharks who went into this game full of confidence, but it’s not the first time they have faded in the final half.

It was literally a game of two halves – with each side enjoying the highs and bemoaning the lows.

After a dazzling first half when they scored four tries, including a try to Matthew Gibuma, the season’s leading try-scorer, the Sharks’ 22-6 lead looked like they had placed themselves in an unassailable position at the half-time break.

But how quickly fortunes changed and Innisfail scored 26 unanswered points. Despite a late rally by the Mossman team, it was too little too late.

Murgha said the weekend loss is perhaps a blessing in disguise.

“After the weekend loss, there is a clear message we have to play for 80 minutes. We cannot afford to fall asleep again, as it could be very costly,” he said.  

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