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Five Key Points - Sharks v Storm

1 This rivalry is for real
If anyone was in any doubt, the melee following the full-time siren not only showed the frustration the players were feeling after a record number of penalties were blown on the night but it also provided a pretty fair indication of the mutual dislike between the two teams. 

Ungainly tackles on skipper Paul Gallen in the final two minutes of the contest, both of which have resulted in Storm players being charged, fired the Sharks up, even before the gang-tackle on Wade Graham when the full-time siren sounded. 

It was only push and shove, but emotions certainly were running high. 

 In the end run the Sharks could celebrate, their opponents were left to lick their wounds, but it sets up a fiery rematch in round 22. This rivalry is for real. 

 2 Defense wins big matches
The Sharks were less than satisfied with their completion rate and that’s without going into detail about the 14 penalties they conceded, but it was the defensive effort which would have pleased coach Shane Flanagan. 

Forced to repeatedly defend their line in the first half the Sharks turned the Storm away time after time and to keep the reigning premiers to just two penalty goals on the night was an outstanding effort. 

If one particular aspect of the Sharks game is headed in the right direction, it is their efforts without the ball, having conceded only one try in two weeks of football. 

The Sharks will continue to work on the combinations and the attacking aspects of their game, hopefully while taking the same defensive intensity with them as the season progresses. 

 3 Sharks run deep
To be successful in the NRL teams need quality backups when the first stringers are unavailable for whatever reason. 

Against the Storm the Sharks were forced to play without star recruits Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan, with the pair ruled out in the 24-hours leading into the contest. 

In comes Edrick Lee, with Valentine Holmes switching the fullback, while the experienced Trent Hodkinson deputised for Moylan in the halves. 

Lee rang strongly and complemented the work of his fellow outside backs, also scoring the only try of the match. And as he was the week prior, Hodkinson was calm, controlled, kicked cleverly and was the perfect foil for halves partner Chad Townsend. 

In the forwards there was a reshuffle, without Jayson Bukuya, perhaps Cronulla’s  best performer through the first three games set to miss a month of more. Luke Lewis comes back after he himself was absent for the opening three rounds and the Sharks didn't miss a beat.   

It takes depth to contend and the Sharks run deep in 2018. 

 4 Looking for a kicker, we’ve found one
There was some concern and the odd bit of media speculation over the summer surrounding who would step up and take over the goal kicking duties with the departure of James Maloney to Penrith. 

The Sharks had a handful of would-be replacements putting in the work during the pre-season, with Chad Townsend, Matt Moylan, Valentine Holmes and rookie Kyle Flanagan all getting in plenty of practice. 

Trent Hodkinson arrived on the scene closer to the start of the season and he became yet another option. 

Round one and the coach handed the tee to Townsend and 17 successful kicks from 17 attempts, and the Sharks appear to have found themselves a kicker. The local junior was confident, telling everyone who would care to listen, if he put in the practice, he could get the job done. Four weeks later Townsend’s got everyone believing him. 

 5 Ok, lets talk about the penalties
Five Key Points was going to avoid going into any great detail about the topic, but after the referees found 33 incidents worthy of blowing their whistles, it becomes impossible to ignore. 

Just a week earlier the Sharks went 50 minutes before conceding their first penalty in the win over the Eels, last Friday night they had given up 10 by half time. 

Ruck and off side infringements seemed to be the most popular and their opponents didn't escape the glare of the officials either.

In all, when counting the double ups for a couple of back chatting issues, it added up to 33 penalties, 19 for the Sharks, 14 against. 

As one journalist joked, when Cameron Smith gets so frustrated he back chats twice, and for his trouble gets sent to the sin bin, for the first time in his 360-plus game career mind you, and the world has definitely gone crazy.

With a smile Andrew Fifita added it was a good thing for the big boys in the middle, it gave them plenty of time to rest, while both coaches diplomatically said their teams would need to improve their discipline and fall into line with the crackdown if it was continue down the current path. 

Yes it was nice to win, against a quality team in the Storm, but in the end there were plenty of people, experts and fans alike, wondering where it is all headed. 


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.

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