by Ryan Selvage
1. Suburban grounds are what Rugby League is all about.
19,005 fans flocked to Belmore Sports Ground to sit, stand and cheer what was eighty minutes of hard-fought action. The Bulldogs play the majority of their home fixtures out of ANZ Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park. While there have been moves to push other Sydney teams’ home games to the bigger stadiums, Sunday’s back drop showed why Suburban grounds are – and always will be – the heart and soul of Rugby League.
2. The Cronulla completion rate must improve to compete in finals football.
Coach Shane Flanagan praised the side’s resilience in defending their goal line, but he wouldn’t have been happy with the Sharks completion rate and error count. Flanagan conceded that 17 errors in 80 minutes of football just simply isn’t good enough. “Usually you do that, especially against a team like the Bulldogs, we’re getting beat by a fair score today,” Flanagan said in his post match press conference. “We can’t keep doing that ... we need to be smart and execute well. We’re going to get caught when a side’s on.”
3. Michael Ennis again proved why he is one of the best competitors in the NRL.
Returning to the spiritual home of his former Club, Michael Ennis was not swayed by the added pressure of performing against his ex-teammates. Adding another two try assists to his name and taking his season tally to 14. ‘The Menace’ once more proved that there is plenty of life in his legs at the ripe age of 31-years-old. Ennis’ poise, along with that of fellow veterans Chris Heighington and Luke Lewis, will prove invaluable come the pointy end of the season.
4. Paul Gallen spared his own blushes.
Not only did the Sharks skipper rack up 218 metres from his 26 hit-ups, 3 offloads, 3 tackle busts and complete 38 tackles, Paul Gallen crossed for his first try of the season – dismissing himself from the unfashionable ‘nudie run’ crew come the season’s end.
5. Valentine Holmes within reach of joining Cronulla’s elite try-scorers*.
Playing his first NRL match as a 20-year-old, Valentine Holmes collected an Ennis kick to plant down his 12th try of the season against the Bulldogs. David Peachey (19 tries in 26 games, 1999) holds the Club record for most tries in a single season. But with 6 remaining games in the regular season and potential finals appearances there after, Holmes could join names like Rogers, Howland and Campbell in the top 10 on the ‘Most Tries in a Season’ list if he crosses the line on four more occasions in 2015. (Dave Simmons, 16 tries in 25 games, 2005, 10th all time.)
*Includes tries scored in finals matches.