The Cronulla Sharks have recorded a third successive win in defeating the South Sydney Rabbitohs 18 points to 10 at Remondis Stadium.
In a rain-sodden, blustery affair, the Sharks grinded their way to a win to now sit outside of the top eight only on a points differential.
On the attack early, crafty lead-up play from five-eighth Jack Bird and fullback Valentine Holmes earned the Sharks a repeat set inside the Rabbitohs red-zone. Winger Michael Gordon capitalised in the 6th minute, opening Cronulla’s account in taking the score to 4-0.
The hosts again looked likely to post points when halfback Jeff Robson’s grubber forced a goal-line drop out, but the 2014 NRL premiers’ defence remained resolute when called into action.
Not having it all their own way, the Sharks were also asked to defend their line when Greg Inglis burrowed from close range.
Running to the northern end of Remondis Stadium – with a gusty southerly breeze at their back – Mick Ennis’ penalty kick for touch once more sent Cronulla deep onto the attack.
Having posed plenty of questions of the Souths goal-line defence, Ennis’ boot again proved decisive as Luke Lewis scooped up the hooker’s grubber to score adjacent to the posts.
Lewis’ four-pointer took the Sharks’ lead to ten, and marked his third try in as many games upon his return from injury.
Cronulla dominated possession and territory for much of the first 40 minutes, before the visitors crossed for their first try of the night through Alex Johnston who finished off a well-worked backline move.
With the score at 10-4 with a minute to play before the break, fullback Holmes unsuccessfully attempted to extend the margin to seven with a field-goal effort from close range.
Running into the southerly in the second period, the Sharks found it tough to work the ball away from their own end.
With thanks to the strong breeze at their backs, the Rabbitohs forced a goal-line restart and had looked to have levelled the scores soon after.
Souths prop George Burgess had thought he had scored his side's second of the night, only for the play to be sent up stairs and then ruled as a double movement.
Withstanding the Rabbitohs pressure, co-captain Ennis was held up over held up over the line – and earned the Sharks a penalty – which Holmes converted to extend the lead to eight.
A try to Rabbitohs backrower Chris McQueen lessened the deficit to two points, before the origin representative claimed a second just minutes later.
Again the Rabbitohs found no success from the video referee, as Souths were ruled to have knocked-on in the lead up to McQueen crossing the stripe.
The sides went set-for-set in testing conditions for much of the second half, before another Ennis grubber lead to a Jayson Bukuya try with five minutes to play.
Valentine Holmes made no mistake from in front of the posts as he extended the lead to eight; and the Sharks hung on to prevail 18-10 before 3,978 hardy supporters.
Cronulla Sharks 18 [Tries: Michael Gordon, Luke Lewis, Jayson Bukuya – Goals: Michael Gordon (1/2), Valentine Holmes (2/2)]
Def. South Sydney Rabittohs 10 [Tries: Alex Johnston, Chris Mcqueen – Goals: Isaac Luke (1/2)]