Five Key Points - Sharks v Storm

What were the big moments, the game changers, the key points to come from the Sharks win over the Storm. Here’s what we thought

 

1 ‘No try’ changed the momentum
The young Sharks team were first on the board when Sione Katoa crossed early, but shortly after the Storm went on the front foot, dominating the next 20 minutes, with two tries, a conversion and a penalty, giving them a 12-6 lead. 

And it could have been worse when an apparent Melbourne try down the Sharks right hand side was called back for an obstruction in the lead up. 

Sharks five eighth Kyle Flanagan was impeded by a lead runner who lingered in the defensive line and while its questionable whether or not he could have prevented the Storm touchdown, rules are rules and the video referee flashed up the ‘No Try’ decision, much to the relief of the Cronulla side and the parochial home crowd. 

From there the momentum shifted, the Sharks managed a try before half time and went on with the job in second half. 

It was a pivotal moment in a memorable Sharks win. 

 

2 Young Flanagan stands up
Kyle Flanagan has been patiently biding his time, as 18th man on a number of occasions and in a couple of outing for the Newtown Jets, with the injury to Shaun Johnson providing him with an opportunity on Friday night. 

With just two NRL games to his name, one last season and the second from earlier this year when he received a late call up, Flanagan played his role like a seasoned veteran. 

He kicked intelligently, defended stoutly and competed hard on every play, his cover tackle on runaway Storm winger Josh Addo-Carr helping to preserve the Sharks lead late in the second half. 

Chad Townsend continued his excellent start to the season with another outstanding effort as his halves partner, but coach if John Morris thought Flanagan could do the job in the absence of Johnson, now he believes he can, with evidence from a professional performance on Friday to back up that assessment. 

 

3 Dugan finds form
It’s been a challenging first seven rounds for Josh Dugan, who started in the centres, was moved to the wing and was then a late withdrawal with a hamstring twinge in Brisbane. 

Those challenging times then seemed to be continuing with Dugan under pressure early in the game against the Storm, dropping a bomb then being forced over the sideline on a kick return. 

But from there, Dugan never put a foot wrong, catching everything that came his way, running strongly from the back, defending aggressively when he had to, in playing a major role in the Sharks win. 

In a good place off the field, with more performances like that, he might be ready to deliver some good things on it as well and if he can return to his representative form it would provide the Sharks with a major boost. 

He is likely to play fullback again this Thursday night against the Titans, but when Matt Moylan returns in the not too distant future, what number he’ll have on his back is anyone’s guess. 

As Dugan said in an interview on Friday, it is both a strength and a curse to be able to play multiple positions, however wherever it is, if he can perform to the same level as he did on Friday night, the Sharks are set to prosper. 

 

4 Bench does the job
The job of the bench is to provide energy and enthusiasm, to keep the roll going if things are going well, or to ‘change the game’ and turn it in their teams’ favour if the starting side is doing it tough. 

Well whatever the assignment was on Friday, the Sharks bench did the job required, and then some. 

Jayson Bukuya is a premiership winner, we know what he can do and he provided the fast feet and thrust through the middle in perhaps his best performance of the 2019 season. 

Jack Williams gets better with every outing, his strong running and physicality in defence again provided a lift to the Sharks side at just the right time. 

Blayke Brailey showed exactly why the wraps are so big on him, with his skill, speed and awareness at dummy half keeping the Sharks on the front foot through crucial moments late in the game. 

And then there was Braden Hamlin-Uele. He was elevated into the Sharks 17 a few weeks back when the injury crisis hit hard. He was seen to be filling a hole. Now after four games, each week better than the one before, and Uele has taken his opportunity and run with it. 

If he keeps improving at the level he is at present, Uele is going to be hard to leave out of the team once all the stars are fit and ready to return. 

The bench did the job, outplaying their Storm counterparts, which had a major bearing on the end result and the exciting Sharks win. 

 

5 The back row boys deliver 

At the start of the year the Sharks needed two new starting back rowers. One to replace the retired Luke Lewis, the other for at least half a season while Wade Graham recovered from his knee reconstruction.

Well John Morris has certainly found two good ones, with rookie Briton Nikora again outstanding and Kurt Capewell a deserving choice as the Channel 9 Man-of-the-Match. 

Nikora ran those tough lines, as he has done in all of the previous six games of his NRL career, he hit hard in defence and showed great anticipation in winning the race to a Kyle Flanagan grubber kick for a Sharks try. 

It was what we have come to expect from a youngster already being touted as NRL rookie of the year despite the fact we are just eight rounds into the 2019 season. 

And then there was Capewell. Maybe it was playing against the Broncos who deemed him not good enough to be playing NRL when they discarded him as a 20-year-old. Or possibly it was just another example of the boy from regional Queensland showing he has developed into a quality first grade player. 

Whatever it was, Capewell showed up the bigger names with what was close to a best-on-ground performance. 

The back row boys certainly delivered exactly what was needed last Friday night.