5 Key Points: Sharks v Raiders
1. Ennis’ out proves a huge blow
Michael Ennis was ruled a late exclusion to the Sharks team list, deemed unfit to play having suffered from illness for much of the last week.
Though fill-in hookers Matt McIlwrick and Fa’amanu Brown did their all, the sheer presence of Ennis is one thing that could not be replaced.
Missing his craft, direction and nous around the middle of the ruck, the Sharks – at times – looked rudderless with the ball in hand, not least due to the influence that the veteran hooker has in the side’s go-forward.
2. Rapana’s quick-fire double shot the Sharks down
Two tries in as many minutes for the Raiders’ flying winger Jordan Rapana quickly turned a 2-point deficit into a 10-point lead, as the visitors hit back from 8-6 down to find an 18-8 front.
Rapana’s snatch-and-grab to score in the 24th minute prevailed that of his efforts to kick-chase and score in the 26th, not only swinging the score line – but also the match’s momentum – in favour of the visitors.
3. Grey areas over the ‘double-movement’ rule remain
Blake Austin’s effort to slice through the Sharks defence in the 59th minute had led to points, though not without some conjecture around the put-down, and if it was indeed a legal play.
Off to the NRL Bunker, the video review team couldn’t find fault in the try, but the put-down largely resembled that of a Valentine Holmes ‘No Try’ seen at Southern Cross Group Stadium when the Sharks hosted the Knights in Round 20.
4. Crafty Hodgson puts hand up in Dally M race
Canberra hooker Josh Hodgson’s influence on the contest can’t be emphasised enough, as the Englishman ran amok in the middle of the park.
A line break and a dart to see Rapana in for his second, before again going through and asking plenty of questions of the Sharks defence, will no doubt see Hodgson earn points in the judges’ eyes.
Leading the count as voting went behind closed doors mid-season, Hodgson again looked likely to have claimed 2, if not 3, votes against the Sharks.
5. 2016 Sharks with a chance to score another Club record
Though unable to get the win over the Raiders, the Sharks will again have a chance to equal a long-standing Club record, when hosting the Roosters in Round 25.
In the Sharks’ history, only once has a side won 11 from 12 games at home in a single season, with a win over the travelling Chooks in Round 25 set to equal that feat first scored in 1999.
To draw level with that ledger though, the Sharks need your support! Don’t miss the team’s final match at Southern Cross Group Stadium.