NRL MATCH REPORT | Sharks bite old foes
Returning to Remondis Stadium after last weeks venture to Brookvale, the Sharks put in a strong performance fitting of a local derby in front of near-on 13,000 fans.
Sharks winger Sosaia Feki opened the scoring in the 4th minute in showing an amazing pair of hands to reel in a pass, before bullocking his way over the line.
Celebrating Luke Lewis’ 250th NRL game, the Sharks pack were out to dominate in the early stages and did so through the good work of Andrew Fifita and captain Paul Gallen.
With the Sharks big men having laid the platform for the outside backs, Valentine Holmes made a bust down the right edge only to be incorrectly ruled to have stepped into touch, but the hosts were again looking ominous.
Fellow young-gun Jack Bird soon after asked the question of the video referee when he claimed a try, only to be denied as the Dragons were forced to concede a goal line drop out.
Looking to cap his milestone match in winning fashion, Lewis’ tough work through the middle of the park was rewarded when he crossed for his ninth try of the season. Fullback Michael Gordon converted to extend the side’s lead to 10 after 26 minutes.
The Sharks were putting on a show for the home crowd, and Lewis was again involved in a piece of enterprising play when Valentine Holmes snuck a two minutes later. Kicking into a strong breeze, Gordon again managed to add the extras as Cronulla went out by 16.
Putting on a show both in attack and defence, Michael Gordon forced an error before streaking 50 metres down field. A wayward pass however turned over possession, and the Dragons crossed for their first try of the afternoon through Charly Runciman in the prevailing set of six.
With the score at 16 points to 4, Widdop was unable to convert and the sides returned to the sheds with the Sharks up by 12.
The teams returned to the field and it was the visitors who looked most likely to post points as the Dragons pressed the goal line early. And the pressures almost told, if not for back-rower Wade Graham’s clutch defence to hold the opposition up over the line.
Ben Barba too made a crucial one-on-one stop when he nullified Ben Creagh close to the line, before Lewis showed a turn of foot to run down a flying Widdop minutes later.
The Sharks good work without the ball was rewarded when they again had useful possession, and metre-eater Andrew Fifita capped a strong outing with a try when he scooped up an Ennis grubber. With Gordon off the field for Ben Barba, Holmes converted try and turned four points into six.
With the side full of confidence having posted four tries, Barba added another when his grubber was neatly collected and offloaded by Feki. Holmes again slotted the extras from the touchline in taking the score to 28 points to 4.
Runciman restored some respectability to the score line when he crossed for his second, but with Widdop again unable to convert the Sharks held on to a 20-point lead with 8 minutes to play.
In winding down the clock after what was an excellent afternoon, the Sharks ran out 28 points to 8 victorsand move to sit on the cusp of the all-important top 8.
CRONULLA SHARKS 28 – (TRIES: Feki, Lewis, Holmes, Fifita, Barba | GOALS: Gordon (2/3), Holmes (2/2)
def. ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 8 – (TRIES: Runciman (2) | GOALS: Widdop (0/2)