What did we learn, what were the five key points to come from the Sharks exciting 11-2 win over the Melbourne Storm?
1. This is a genuine rivalry
The intensity in the physical clashes and the chatter back and forth showed that this meant maybe more to both teams than just the two competition points on offer.
James Maloney was always in the thick of the action, there was no love lost between Paul Gallen and Will Chambers and Cooper Cronk might be looking over his shoulder for Wade Graham even on the way to the car park tonight, the Sharks back rower giving the Queensland and Australian half back a torrid time all afternoon.
Its not Sharks-Dragons and its not a local derby, there is considerable distance between the two, however with the history from the Grand Final and with the obvious dislike between the two, the Sharks-Storm clash is developing into a genuine rivalry.
2. Segeyaro starting to show his worth
Young gun Jayden Brailey did the job assigned to him once again, tackling himself to a standstill and delivering outstanding service from dummy half, however another cameo from James Segeyaro showed he will be a definite asset to the Sharks title defense.
Segeyaro was lively out of dummy half in 28 minutes on the field, defending stoutly and putting in a couple of telling kicks at crucial momnents in the second half.
Then there was the opportunistic try, touching down first after an in-goal scramble following an error from Billy Slater, the try coming off his own grubber kick.
The Brailey-Segeyaro combination could prove to be a very good one as the year goes on.
3. Graham Origin ready
If the job Wade Graham did on Cooper Cronk counts for anything the Sharks back rower must have stamped himself as close to an Origin certainty with his performance at AAMI Park.
Graham harassed, smashed, made things as uncomfortable as possible for Cronk with his line speed and no-nonsense defense.
He also made him work without the football, running hard and often at Cronk whenever the opportunity arose.
With Cronk struggling to have an impact the Storm attack was ‘clunky’ as they battled to make inroads.
Take note Laurie Daley, if you want a Blues back rower to do a job on the Queensland playmakers, Graham is your man.
4. Defense wins matches
For a while it looked like being 3-2, a score line more in taking with a Sydney FC against Melbourne Victory match.
While the slippery conditions can take some of the blame for the ordinary handling from both teams, it had just as much to do with the defensive intensity.
The Sharks kept turning the Storm away with a lop-sided penalty count giving Melbourne an advantage in the field position, with their goal line defense outstanding.
They also had a number of tireless workers, Jayden Brailey made 38 tackles in 50 minutes, Matt Prior 35 in 49, with Wade Graham, Jayson Bukuya and Luke Lewis all strong and dependable on the edges.
Defense wins big matches, with this the Sharks best effort in that department of the 2017 season so far.
5. Do we dare to dream? Again?
Its only round six and the Sharks will admit they are still somewhat short of their best form, however the way in which they toughed out a win over the previously unbeaten Storm, gives Sharks fans reason to dream. Again!
Despite the loss the Storm still qualify as the benchmark and for the Sharks to go into enemy territory, hold them tryless and to come away with a win against the odds, shows this team isn’t going to surrender their title without a fight.
Victories like this one build confidence for further down the track and despite the fact they are still working their way into the season, the Sharks will take plenty from this Melbourne road trip.
Plenty said the Sharks couldn’t win the premiership last year, the same critics are saying nobody in the NRL defends in this modern era. Last year we said ‘Why not us”, this year at least behind closed doors, the Sharks might be uttering the same words.