5 Key Points - Sharks v Dragons
It was edge of the seat stuff with the Sharks scoring a 72nd minute try to edge out the Dragons in a thriller.
The Sharks were forced to dig deep against a committed Dragons side but found just enough to claim the points and move past St George Illawarra and into second position on the NRL ladder.
What were the big moments, the key points to come from yet another memorable derby match.
1 Focusing on the positives
Yes there were too many errors, with the Sharks completing at just 69 percent in comparison to 92 per cent for their opponents, with the error count reading 14 to four from the Dragons.
Again there were too many penalties, seven conceded by the Sharks, only three went their way.
But in the end run and in a major positive, the Sharks again found a way to win.
Like a number of their victories this season, the triumph in the derby was built on character and an ability to hang in when the going gets tough.
Despite the stats saying they should be struggling, the defending premiers are travelling nicely in second place after the first 10 rounds.
2 Maloney on target
In the end he only kicked three goals but James Maloney only had three shots and all were from wide angles.
With only four points separating the two teams those three Maloney goals were vital, with his turning four points into six giving the Sharks the edge in a typically intense derby clash.
Maloney’s first goal also represented a milestone of sorts, with his first two points taking him to 100 against the Dragons, the 10th team he has scored a century of points against.
3 Enjoy Jack Bird in 2017
Every Sharks fan is disappointed Jack Bird will be moving on in 2018, even more so when he plays a starring role like he did in the win over the Dragons.
Late in the match with the game on the line Bird lifted a notch, making a line break and off load which almost resulted in a Wade Graham try, before having the final touch for the Sosaia Feki match winner.
However rather than dwell on the fact Bird will be a Bronco next year, lets celebrate the fact he helped the Sharks win their maiden title last season and will be a major asset again in 2017.
4 The Sharks already have a fullback
While justifiably Jack Bird received plenty of praise for his performance at Jubilee Oval on Friday night his good mate Valentine Holmes continues to improve at the back.
Holmes caught everything kicked his way, returned the ball strongly, chimed into the backline at opportune moments and threw the last pass for his teams first try.
His continuing improvement at fullback is there for everyone to see.
As coach Shane Flanagan said when a big name recruit was mentioned as a replacement at his pre game press conference, he’s not sure where that talk is coming from because he sees Holmes as the Sharks fullback for the next 10 years.
5 The kids going well too
While the ‘big boy’ Sharks jumped over the Dragons and into second place on the NRL points table with their narrow win, their club mates in the Holden Cup also enjoyed a victory which saw them move past the St George Illawarra club on the NYC ladder
Like the NRL match it was second against third in the under 20’s curtain raiser and the Sharks didn’t disappoint.
They scored early, rode out a Dragons comeback in the middle of the game and came home with a wet sail to win 36-14.
Coach John Morris has a talented group, with the youngsters travelling well and playing an entertaining yet tough brand of football.