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1 Hold the ball, the points will come
In completing 21 of 22 first half sets, the Sharks were well on top of their opponents on Thursday night as they led 14-0, then 14-4 at the break.

Two tries, numerous chances, plenty of petrol in the tank with the Sharks dominating field position and possession, it showed if they hold the ball, the points will come.

Unfortunately, half time arrived and the Sharks failed reproduce their first half performance, however if looking for a positive on a disappointing night, the opening 40 minutes was an example of what they are capable of with an even share of the ball.

 

2 Errors, penalties and life becomes difficult
It was certainly a game of two halves, the Sharks well on top in the first period, the Dragons controlling proceedings in the second, with errors and penalties a big reason for the sudden turnaround in fortunes.

The Sharks conceded eight second half penalties, while making 10 errors in possession, compared to four and just one in the opening half, which certainly made life difficult.

A kick off mistake after levelling the scores at 16-apiece gave the ball back to the Dragons, enabling them to control not only the final 20 minutes of the game but also the 10-minute period when they were down a man after Jason Nightingale was sent to the sin-bin.

Enough said, they know where they went wrong, with the trick being to fix the problem before next Saturday night.

 

3 It’s a game of inches
You can always say ‘coulda’, ‘woulda’, ‘shoulda’, following a loss, however there can be no doubt that the game is one of inches and critical moments.

Full marks to Nene MacDonald, but how on earth did he manage to get the football down in the south-eastern corner of Southern Cross Group Stadium, the big Dragons winger planting the ball down about a centimetre from the touch-in-goal line despite the attention of Valentine Holmes.

The second half Ben Hunt almost misses the ball completely with a grubber kick, he barely gets a toe onto the ball, then it fortuitously it pops up and into the hands of Tyson Frizell. Try to he Dragons.

Then down the other end Josh Dugan reaches out, only to have the ball jolted from his grasp in attempting to touch down, before Kurt Capewell leaps high above the pack, collects the ball and off loads to an unmarked Matt Moylan. But with the pass slightly behind him another opportunity goes begging.

‘Coulda’, ‘woulda’, ‘shoulda’, an inch here or there and we could be celebrating rather than commiserating.

 

4 No time to panic, but now is the time to start winning
New recruits in vital positions, untried combinations, when coupled with the lopsided penalty counts and poor completion rates, are just some of the factors contributing to the Sharks less than stellar performances in each of the two opening games.

And as the coach spoke about in the press conference, then skipper Paul Gallen emphasised to the playing group behind closed doors, it will take a collective effort to get back on track and their season underway.

No finger pointing, look after your own personal preparation and performances and go forward as a focused group.

The Sharks suffered losses in rounds one and three in 2016 and we know what happened after that, so now is not the time to panic over their slow start to the season, although it is time to start winning.  

 

5 Put on a derby, the crowds will come
There can be no argument that the traditional (and developing: see Sharks v Cowboys) rivalries create plenty of interest and attract big, noisy and engaged crowds.

Despite being on a Thursday night (Saturday or Sunday would have swelled the crowd numbers significantly but that’s an argument for another day) both Sharks and Dragons fans turned out in numbers, with 13,000-plus in attendance.

The atmosphere was electric, with Sharks fans vocal during the first half, before the Dragon supporters had the last laugh, while the television ratings were through the roof, 1.919 million people tuning into Nine’s free to air coverage. Add to the free-to-air audience figures those turning on Fox Sports and it adds up to plenty of eyeballs on Thursday night’s game.

Rivalries are the lifeblood, they are the games the fans look forward to.

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.