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Five Key Points - Sharks v Raiders

1 Take 'em when you get 'em
Much of the post match discussion surrounded the controversial try to Sione Katoa, when the touch judge erred in putting up his flag and the referee indicated Shark Jesse Ramien had knocked on in the lead up.

Well as it turned out, Katoa didn't go into touch, Ramien didn't touch the ball and as much as the officials eventually got that part of it right, the fallout since has border on hysterical.

There has since been all sorts of conversation and debate surrounding the decision, however if Katoa had been called back, when it wasn't a knock on and he didn't go out, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan just as upset as Ricky Stuart, his counterpart from the Raiders.

And everybody joining the chorus screaming it cost the Raiders the game, it wasn't the officials fault they had found themselves down 22-4 at half time, forcing them to play catch-up in the second period, with the Sharks totally dominant for the opening 40-minutes.

A decision that went against Canberra. No argument. One that categorically cost them the game, not so sure? They had plenty of other chances to win if they were good enough. Cost them their season! They'd already lost nine games before this one and had put themselves in a win at all costs situation.

Yes, it was a major stuff up by the match officials, but you take 'em when you can get 'em and the win and the two points, will be extremely valuable in the run to the finals.

2 A first half masterclass
The evolution of Valentine Holmes as a fullback continues, with the Sharks number one unstoppable in the opening half.

Holmes was everywhere, backing up through the middle, linking up on the edges, making line breaks, creating space for others, while also scoring a try, his 15th of the 2018 season.

The Sharks didn't have as much ball and the game didn't necessarily come to him in the second period, but Holmes had shown enough to indicate the fullback role is his, both in the short term and more than likely going forward into 2019.

It was a first half masterclass from Holmes and a performance that will have Sharks fans excited about what the rest of the year might bring.

3 Wade can't take a trick

Its been a tough year for Wade Graham, with a series of niggling injuries adding up to a frustrating 2018 season so far.

A hamstring strain, a cheekbone fracture, then tonight, just when Graham was finding his groove, in his second game after a strong comeback performance against Penrith last week, the Sharks back rower is again sidelined for the second half.

And adding insult to the injury, Graham was arguably the best player on the field in the first 40 minutes.

Thankfully, as told to Sharks TV immediately after the game, (CLICK HERE to see what he had to say) Graham's groin strain was deemed as not being serious, medical staff taking him out of the game more as a precaution and to prevent a more serious and long term injury.

He hasn't been able to take a trick to this point in 2018, but hopefully Graham's luck will change in the weeks ahead.

4 A first for the fans

Normally the team song, sung loud and proud following a win, takes place in the inner sanctum of the dressing room.

While modern digital media allows the fans to later watch and hear the team celebrating their success, hearing, watching and experiencing the song in person is usually restricted to players, coaches, club officials, maybe a family member or two and the odd sponsor.

But in what was a first for the Sharks, maybe a first for an NRL club, the 17 Sharks players trekked back out onto Southern Cross Group Stadium and burst into song, with and alongside those fans who had stayed around following the full time siren.

The same bashing of the esky, the same Andrew Fifita three cheers for whatever it was that meets his fancy, conducted out on the field, with the fans joining in.

It was a just reward for the loyal fans and supporters, those who had hung around in the arctic conditions to join in the celebrations.

5 It's tight at the top
The win over the Raiders and a loss by the Panthers saw the Sharks climb one spot on the NRL ladder after the completion of round 19 matches.

Now fifth, the Sharks are well and truly in the hunt for a top four berth, with only two points separating the first five teams.

Melbourne sit on top, with the Dragons and Souths level on 28, then comes the Roosters on 26, head of the Sharks on percentages.

Not far behind, only one win, two points, are the Panthers, Warriors and Broncos.

Which means next Thursday's match in Brisbane, and pretty much each game thereafter, will be crucial for the Sharks chances of a top four finish and a double shot in the 2018 finals.

It's tight at the top and whoever can find some form and momentum in the weeks ahead will be hard to stop in September. 

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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