Barba and Holmes stretch Sharks’ winning run

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Ben Barba (left) and Valentine Holmes celebrate.
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Ben Barba (left) and Valentine Holmes celebrate. Brendon Thorne

A BRILLIANT Ben Barba and birthday boy Valentine Holmes sparked Cronulla to the club’s 15th straight win of the season against last-placed Newcastle as the Sharks’ faithful began planning for the finals and a history-making first premiership.

They may have other reasons to celebrate to, with the all-time record of 19 wins in a row, held by the Sydney Roosters, in their sights.

Despite being denied two first-half tries to Barba and Holmes on his 21st birthday, the Sharks ran riot in the second half posting a 36-4 victory, running in eight tries, two each to Barba and Holmes.

Holmes, who scored four tries against Newcastle earlier this year, combined brilliantly with Barba, who worked over Newcastle’s defence on both sides of the field, his long-range raids reminding everyone why he was the game’s most dangerous player in 2012.

Cronulla went into the sheds with a 10-0 lead after Newcastle centre Pat Mata’utia blew a certain try when he lost his footing a few metres out from scoring.

Sharks skipper Paul Gallen and lanky back-rower Mitchell Barnett featured in a couple of clashes, with both players cautioned by the referees who at one stage quipped to Barnett: “Careful, he (Gallen) can throw them”.

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