5 Key Points v Raiders
It was a disappointing night for the Sharks, who is going down by 30-12 to the Raiders have put themselves under pressure to perform over the final month of the 2017 season.
After a reasonable start in jumping out to an 8-0 lead, it was all the Raiders for the remainder of the first half and while the Sharks threatened a comeback the Canberra side held firm and claimed a win that keeps them in the race for a finals berth.
There were some big plays, a few crucial moments, but what were the five points to come from the game? Here’s what we thought.
1. Discipline is key.
The final penalty count may have only been slightly in Canberra’s favour but in the end 12 conceded by the Sharks made their task much too difficult against a desperate Raiders side.
Ill-discipline proved to be the Sharks downfall on the night, with a couple of high shots, a lifting tackle and some calls that went against them gifting their opponents field position and they were good enough to capitalise.
As skipper Paul Gallen said at the press conference, while the number of penalties seemed excessive, he couldn’t think of too many that weren’t justified and wasn’t blaming the match officials for his teams’ demise.
Discipline was key and it will be again when they head into a hostile environment in Brisbane next Friday night.
2. Completions, completions, completions
They say rugby league is a simple game. Run hard, tackle hard, most importantly hold onto the football and success will likely result.
The first two are hard to quantify, but statistics can tell you to the number who holds onto the ball the best and the team with the highest completion percentage usually comes out on top.
The Raiders controlled the ball, limited their errors and completed at 91 per cent. The Sharks on the other hand were in the mid-70’s on the night.
Pretty much everyone runs hard, most teams tackle hard, but completions are the key in the NRL in this day and age.
3. Sharks error a game changer
It’s not right to blame one player or one particular moment for the Sharks loss, however a first tackle error immediately following the Josh Papalli sin-binning was certainly a game changer.
When Papalli was sent for 10 minutes the Sharks had just scored a long range try to make it 24-12 and attacking the Raiders line were building some momentum.
Then came a first tackle handling error and the Sharks never saw the ball again for the entire period the big Raiders back rower was off the field.
The visitors controlled proceedings perfectly, aided by penalties following the mistake and three goals not only pushed the Raiders lead out to 18-points but it snuffed out any hopes the Sharks may have had.
From there Papalli returned and it was 13-on-13 again and the bird had flown for the Sharks.
4. Beale try a highlight
At least home town fans were treated to a glimpse of what the Sharks backline is capable of, with one spectacular piece of rugby league resulting in their second try of the night.
Receiving the ball near the half way line at pace, fullback Valentine Holmes attracted the attention of a couple of Raider defenders, poking through the line before finding Jack Bird in support.
Bird took off down the western side of Southern Cross Group Stadium only for the Raider cover defence to reel him in with 20-metres left to the try line.
Tackled and on his way to the ground Bird threw a perfectly weighted pass putting Gerard Beale into the clear with the Sharks winger sliding over wide out.
It was the highlight of the evening for the Sharks, giving the crowd something to cheer about on an otherwise disappointing night.
5. Bird’s wing clipped
Falling awkwardly late in the match it didn’t look good for Jack Bird when he was forced from the field with a shoulder injury.
With James Maloney sidelined the Sharks can ill-afford to be without another of their Origin stars, however the early prognosis was a encouraging one.
Bird was in a deal of distress when the incident occurred, although once assessed by medical staff it seemed as if the problem may not have been as bad as first thought.
The young Sharks centre will go for a scan tomorrow, with fingers crossed he gets a positive result.