After a big win in Canberra, it was a disappointing result for the Sharks in the Monty Porter Cup clash with the Dragons.
Discipline let the Sharks down in some key areas, while again the unpredictability of the local derby came through with the underdog Dragons coming out on top.
What made the difference, what did we find out, what were the five key points to come from the Sharks v Dragons local derby yesterday?
Discipline is key
Gifting the opposition seven tackles sets, a kick out on the full, errors in possession and a nine to three penalty count against them, all added up to the Sharks shooting themselves in the foot for the second time in three weeks.
In a similar scenario to the round one loss to the Broncos, discipline was the key, or more to the point maybe a lack of it, with Sharks coach Shane Flanagan left frustrated by the performance of his side.
“Probably our worst performance since round three last year at Brookvale,” Flanagan admitted on the CrownBet Cooldown. “We’re better than that and we need to turn it around very soon.”
The ‘Derby’ unpredictable
Coaches and players from both clubs are consistent in sprouting it any and all media interviews in the lead up to Derby games, that being they are unpredictable affairs where anything can happen and the form guide can be thrown out the window.
The Dragons came into the game on the back of a 34-16 thumping at home against the Eels, while the Sharks had appeared to find their mojo after a comprehensive 42-16 victory over the highly rated Raiders down in Canberra.
All indicators pointed to the Sharks being too good yesterday, with the bookies heavily supporting that theory.
Unfortunately for the Sharks however the unpredictability continued as the Dragons prevailed. The second bout comes around in round 10 so we won’t have to wait too long for the rematch.
Wade a vital cog
A three-try hero just seven days prior, Wade Graham again proved what a vital cog he is in the Sharks side and this time around it wasn’t so much what he did, as it was what he wasn’t able to.
Graham was rattled early in the first half while defending his line, then was forced off the field midway through the opening period after receiving another knock when trying to field a Dragons kick.
He passed his head injury assessment (HIA) test in the dressing room after being cleared of a concussion and returned to the field before half time. But Graham wasn’t the same player as the week before when he tore up the Raiders right hand side defence.
Then not so much feeling concussed as physically ill, Graham was forced off the field early in the second half. The Sharks have good depth and capable back-up, however Graham’s absence certainly didn’t help the cause in the narrow loss.
Big three weeks for Edrick
For new recruit Edrick Lee it has been a whirlwind three weeks.
Shown the door by the Raiders only a week before the start of the season, Lee arrived in the Shire just days before the Sharks round one clash, with injuries meaning his was then thrust straight into the starting side for the match against the Broncos.
The week after that he travelled to Canberra where victory would have been sweet against his old side, before he returned to the Shire for the Sharks round three local derby clash with the Dragons.
Despite being on the beaten side yesterday Lee more than held his own, carrying the ball strongly in running for over 140 metres and crossing for his first try in Cronulla colours.
A week a long time
The old adage states that a week is a long time in rugby league and after the first three games of the 2017 season that statement rings true for the Sharks.
Beaten by the Broncos in a match that was definitely there for the taking in round one, the Sharks then bounced back to hand Canberra a hiding in round two, with the difference there to see in all aspects of their play, from energy and enthusiasm, to discipline and execution.
The win over the Raiders had everyone predicting a big home win over the Dragons last night, but that wasn’t to be.
But the good news is we don’t have to wait long for a chance to atone, with the Sharks v Eels scheduled to get it on this Saturday night and a week a long time in rugby league.