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Sharks circle on opening day

An electrical fault forced the Central Coast Sharks to settle for a draw in their 2017 Gridiron New South Wales home opener against the Nepean Ducks.

The hosts took a 24-13 lead into half-time but couldn’t go on with the job as the Slade Park lights didn’t turn on for the second stanza.

The Ducks flew out of the gates as Ryan Higgins gashed the Sharks defence for long range passing touchdown, giving the away side a 7-0 lead after a successful point after.

Central Coast didn’t trail for long as Jordan Nikora found a wide open Eamonn Akamarmoi who walked into the end zone.

The veteran tight end added to his stat sheet just moments later with the go-ahead two-points, putting Central Coast in front 8-7.

Sharks quarterback Jordan Nikora, who was heavily involved all afternoon, stretched the score line to 16-7 with a rushing touchdown from close range.

A familiar face wreaked havoc for the Ducks again, as Ryan Higgins took the ensuing kick-off to the house, bringing the scores to 16-13 with Nepean missing the point after.

Nikora had the last laugh though, with his second touchdown of the day, putting the Coasties ahead 24-13 which would be the last scoring play of the match.

Despite a Sharks lead at half-time, Gridiron New South Wales fairly ruled the contest as a draw.

The Sharks were still happy with their performance and the most pleasing aspect for Nikora was his offence’s fluidity and control.

“We took care of the ball and kept our defence off the field,” Nikora said.

“A lot of our drives were 10 to 15 plays long and we didn’t turn the ball over which is always good”.

Central Coast sensation Nath Thompson was also outstanding, holding dangerous Nepean receiver Grant McNaughton to minimal yardage.

“He shut him down,” Nikora claimed.

“When he did make a catch, Nath was straight around his legs bringing him down,”.

The Men in Orange head to Austral for a round two meeting with West Sydney and Nikora knows it will be a big step-up in competition.

“They have an awesome team but we need to focus on playing our game,” he said.

“If we get sucked into a physical battle we will lose.

“As long as we play smart and get our offensive line cracking we’ve got a good shot.

The Central Coast Sharks will face the West Sydney Pirates on Saturday at Austral from 7pm.

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