Five key points - Sharks v Dragons

1. There were some signs
Obviously the game didn't play out the way the Sharks would have hoped, errors and ill-discipline hurt them in the first half, injuries to key personnel compounding their problems in the second. 

However, all that being said, there were some signs of improvement in attack, the Sharks scoring four tries on the night, with all coming through enterprising play. 

Some of Matt Moylan’s work from the back, a little more continuity in the halves, a solid performance from Josh Dugan and sound finishing from Ricky Leutele and Edrick Lee out wide, was a step up on the previous two weeks. 

Yes the Sharks were their own worst enemies at times, but when in possession and in an attacking zone, the signs indicated that part of their game at least, was moving in a positive direction. 

 

2. This one hurt for Duges
The WIN Stadium crowd on the eastern hill gave him a hard time and no doubt his old mates in the Dragons line up were constantly reminding him of their perfect start to the 2018 season, however Josh Dugan, back in the line up after missing two weeks with injury, was amongst the Sharks best on the night. 

Dugan threw a clever flick pass for a try, was denied another with a contentious video refereeing call and played with energy both with the ball and without. 

But at full-time it was obvious the effort he had put in and what it meant to him in what was his second game against his old club. 

Dugan was spent and an 80-minute effort, head bowed, keeping to himself when the Monty Porter Trophy was being presented on field, as he came to terms with his team’s loss. 

Sometimes people say it doesn't mean enough to the players, but this one hurt for Duges. 

 

3. A solid debut, more to come
It was a solid debut for local junior Kurt Dillon, who with the Sharks long injury toll played a lot more minutes than had probably been intended. 

Dillon went on midway through the first period and when Paul Gallen, then Andrew Fifita went down, the planned interchange rotation went out the window. 

The young front rower toiled hard, ran for the second most metres amongst Sharks forwards and defended stoutly against a pack current being rated with the best in the NRL. 

Sure there was one error and after a couple of teammates had already missed Dragons hooker Cameron McInnes, Dillon couldn't quite clean up the mess in cover defence, but overall he certainly would have received a pass mark from coach Shane Flanagan. 

And with a game under his belt and the injuries which look likely to sideline Gallen, Fifita and Wade Graham for at least a week or two, Dillon will get another chance and be better for the run last Friday night. 


4. No sympathy from the coach
While some may have excused the loss to the Dragons on the injury toll, the Sharks coach wasn't one of them. 

Although conceding that losing key players made their task more difficult, Flanagan was left disappointed with a large error count and the first-half ill-discipline. 

And in his full-time address he was quick to point out that many of the errors and penalties conceded came from some of his most experienced players. 

A total of 16 errors with the ball, 12 penalties conceded, makes it hard to win football games, especially against a team playing with confidence, as the Dragons presently are, regardless who is or isn't on the field. 

 

5. Depth set to be tested
Further to the above, with perhaps four players missing next week due to injury, the Sharks depth is set to be severely tested. 

While the status of Gallen, Fifita, Graham and Luke Lewis is still somewhat unclear, chances are the Sharks will need to call on some young blood to fill a few gaps for the game against the Panthers next Sunday. 

Likely sensing an opportunity to impress, with Flanagan watching on from the sideline, the Newtown Jets put the Newcastle Knights to the sword as many of the Sharks young guns pushed their claims for an NRL call-up. 

The Jets scored a 58-4 win over the Knights, with the likes of Jack Williams, Braden Uele and Scott Sorensen likely to come into calculations, while Sione Katoa made a successful return on the wing, having recovered from his broken jaw.