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Five Key Points – Sharks v Panthers

1 Attitude and emotion save the day
Despite only having 37 per cent of the football in the opening half, the Sharks went to the break with a lead over the Panthers, scoring two tries in the first 40-minutes compared to just one for their opponents. 

That coming on top of Luke Lewis limping from the field with a calf injury and Joseph Paulo spending 15 minutes on the sideline undergoing a head injury assessment after copping a knock midway through the half. Both of those unscheduled replacements throwing out the Sharks interchange plans.

However, showing outstanding commitment in defence, the Sharks repeatedly turned away the Panthers in that first half, setting up what would turn out to be a crucial win.

Attitude and emotion won the day, and ultimately the game, with the Sharks no doubt looking for more of the same in the weeks to come.

2 The spine is stiffening
Over the last few seasons one the most common conversations media commentators engage in is about the relative merits of a team's spine. They discuss ad nauseum the effectiveness of the players in the vital positions of halfback, five eighth, hooker and fullback.

When they claimed the title in 2016, the Sharks had arguably the best 'spine' in the competition, with Michal Ennis, Ben Barba, James Maloney and Chad Townsend, instrumental in the club winning its inaugural premiership.

In 2018, Townsend remains, but he has new teammates around him in the crucial positions and after injuries, form and coach preference, it is fair to say there have been a few teething problems through the opening six rounds

While still not perfect, the Sharks 'spine' showed some promising signs on Sunday afternoon, Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan enjoying their best outings in Cronulla colours, Jayden Brailey ran intelligently when the opportunity presented, tackled strongly and provided crisp service, while Townsend was on song with his kicking game and organisation.

The Sharks spine may be stiffening and that can only be a good thing moving forward.

3 Depth tested and comes up trumps
All teams have injuries, ideally you just don't want to get them all at the same time.

Not having Paul Gallen, Wade Graham or Jayson Bukuya on Sunday was always going to provide a challenge, and when Luke Lewis limped off early in the match, the Sharks forward depth was set to be severely tested

Up steps Scott Sorensen, scoring what was possibly the try of the year so far, the local junior proving more than up to NRL standard in a dynamic 80-minute performance. That meant one hole was filled.

On the other edge the versatile and talented Kurt Capewell substituted for Lewis and was effective, with Joseph Paulo, busy, skilful and capably filling Gallen's position at lock.

In the middle Kurt Dillon in his second game in the top grade also did a job for coach Shane Flanagan and appears destined to play a lot more NRL football in the weeks, months and years ahead.

Throw in the fact that most of the Sharks currently playing for the Jets are in good form, Newtown winning again on Saturday, and it showed the importance of having good depth, with the Sharks passing their first serious test with flying colours.

4 Fifita leads the charge
Who would have ever thought Andrew Fifita could strike up a conversation on the field with the referee and have the man in charge actually listen to what he had to say.

Well that's exactly what happened when injury forced Lewis from the field, leaving Fifita as the Sharks captain for the final 65-odd minutes of the match.

Fifita engaged with Matt Cecchin on a couple of occasions, later inside the Sharks dressing room saying Sunday's lead ref wasn't a bad bloke, Cecchin extending him the respect he warranted as the stand-in skipper.

And rather than be a burden, Fifita relished the responsibility, playing over 70-minutes of the match, racking up good numbers in both attack and defence while leading his team to an important win.

Fifita a future Sharks captain? He's now one-for-one and funnier things have happened.

5 Should there be an investigation?
It was a try, it was four points to the Sharks at a critical time in the match, and who scored it probably means little to the Sharks coach.

In actual fact, had James Maloney not knocked Josh Dugan base over apex in the scramble for the ball, the try probably would have been scored by the Sharks fullback.

James Segeyaro and Jesse Ramien both dived, stretched out and planted the ball down. Almost simultaneously. But who scored?

It was awarded to Ramien, but Chicko was the man doing most of the celebrating, Sharks Fin on his head and all.

After the game James demanded an investigation. Jesse was adamant he had scored. Valentine Holmes weighed in and said he only thought Segeyaro had scored because of his excessive celebrations.

Is it something for the NRL Integrity Unit to decide? If they choose not to get involved, it will stand as two tries to Ramien in the round seven match, duck eggs for Segeyaro.

If you want to make your own call, CLICK HERE for the Sharks TV video and you be the judge. 


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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