Moylan return sparks Sharks in Wollongong

In recording just their second win at WIN Stadium in the past 30 years, the Sharks have scored an outstanding 22-9 victory over St George Illawarra to claim the Monty Porter Cup, the all-important two competition points and bragging rights over their local rivals. 

The Dragons had a mountain of possession in the first half but a stellar defensive effort kept the scores close, with the Cronulla side dominant in the final 40 before scoring in the final seconds of the match to secure the win and consolidate their place inside the top eight. 

Three tries to Bronson Xerri, an exciting comeback from Matt Moylan after seven weeks on the sideline and another complete performance from half back Chad Townsend helped guide the Sharks to victory, 

After the Dragons had a couple of early near misses, their pressure resulted in a Jai Field penalty goal and a 2-0 lead to the home team. 

Finally with an opportunity to go on the attack shortly after the Sharks would press at the northern end of WIN Stadium and a clever exchange of passes saw Matt Moylan skip to the outside, put Josh Dugan into space, with the centre dishing for Bronson Xerri to dive over in the corner. 

Kyle Flanagan showed good nerve to slot the sideline conversion despite the best efforts of the eastern hill to distract him and the Sharks were up 6-2 in the seventh minute. 

Field position favoured the Dragons and with penalties and possession in their favour they looked to have scored twice, the first time when Dugan made a last ditch try-saver, the second when Ben Hunt spilled the ball over the line and the Sharks managed to keep their line intact. 

The Dragons however would eventually get over the line, hooker and captain Cameron McInnes burrowing over from dummy half and when Field added the extras it was 8-6 to St George 

The Sharks would then have their chances, Sosaia Feki stepping out when a try was on offer, having make do with a penalty goal in levelling the scores at 8-apiece three minutes from half time. 

Then just when it appeared the two sides would go to the break all tied up, a Hunt field goal made it 9-8 and gave St George Illawarra the first half lead. 

Hoping for a better share of possession in the second period the Sharks kept their intensity level high and they were almost immediately rewarded, Flanagan seeing some open space and kicking deep into the corner early in the take count, with Kurt Capewell winning the race to the ball then tipping on for Xerri to cross for his second. 

Flanagan couldn't convert from a wide angle however the try saw the Sharks retake the lead at 12-9 in front. 

Capewell, now playing on the right wing after Josh Dugan was ruled out following a nasty head clash, had a chance to add to his teams advantage only to be bundled into touch in goal but they wouldn't have to wait too much longer to extend the lead. 

Again it was a right side play, with Moylan running the ball on the last tackle, combining with Flanagan, before putting Xerri over for his third and the Sharks now had the ascendancy at 16-9 ahead with still 20 minutes left on the clock. 

The Dragons threw plenty at the Sharks in the final period of the contest, but outstanding scramble and excellent goal line defence kept them at bay, before Blayke Brailey would win the race to his own grubber kick in the dying moments to secure the victory. 

The win sees the Sharks go into the bye inside the top eight and with key personnel set to return over the next few weeks, look ready to mount a challenge towards a place in the finals. 

 


SHARKS 22
Bronson Xerri 3, Blayke Brailey tries, Kyle Flanagan 2, Paul Gallen goals
Beat
DRAGONS 9
Cameron McInnes try, Jai Field 2 goals, Ben Hunt field goal.