An unlikely hero....almost

What were the big plays, the game changers, the points of interest to come from the Sharks loss to the Bulldogs? Here’s what we thought

 

1 An unlikely hero…..almost
Jack Williams claimed the loose ball, looked up and all he had in front of him was clear space, some 85 metres of it at that.

Williams set sail for the try line and for a long time looked as though he might score the try to claim what would have been an improbable win for the Sharks.

The highlights reel will show Williams was brought down just metres from the line and while the Bulldogs took an inordinate amount of time to get off him and allow him to play the ball, with no whistle coming from the referee, a key moment in the game the Sharks coach expressed his disappointment about in the post-match press conference, the Cronulla side still had a chance out wide to score and go ahead.

Unfortunately, the go-ahead try failed to eventuate.  

Elevated to the Sharks starting side and only back on the field due to a concussion to Jayson Bukuya, it was a near thing for Williams who was about two metres away from becoming an unlikely hero. 

 

2 A familiar tale part 1

Too many errors and a completion rate of around 65 per cent, on most weeks isn't good enough to win games in the NRL.

The Sharks made 16 handling errors on the night and as a consequence if looking at the stat sheet the fact that the final result went against them shouldn't be too much of a surprise.

That they were able to come within a whisker of pulling it off late shouldn't really sugarcoat that it was a below par performance from the Sharks.

In the games the Sharks have come up short, and in some of those they've managed to win, the lack of respect for possession has been a killer.

It’s been a familiar tale for the Sharks and something they will need to get right should they hope to return to the winner’s circle and challenge the leading sides.

 

3 A familiar tale part 2

Against Canberra the Sharks trailed by 20-0 well before half time, fought back in the second period but couldn't get the chocolates. John Morris expressing that you don’t win games in the opening 20 minutes but you can loose them, was pretty close to the mark.  

After this week’s loss the coach spoke of the numbers which were telling him the Sharks were statistically the worst first half team in the competition.

And while they’ve managed to fight back and win some of those game in which they've trailed, every week the Sharks seemingly make it hard work by giving up the early leads.

Like the errors which are contributing to the losses, so too are the slow starts a familiar tale of the Sharks 2019 season to date and an aspect of their game they’ll need to correct and they'll need to correct it quickly.

 

4 A solid return
It was perhaps difficult to find a lot of positives in the Sharks performance against the Dogs, however one player who did stand up, despite being out of action for the better part of three months, was front rower Aaron Woods.

In his first game since round four, Woods was thrown into the game some 21 minutes in and while taking his time to find his feet, worked his way into the contest with great effect.

In all Woods churned out 44 minutes of game time, made 16 runs for 137 metres, the most by a Sharks forward, while executing 27 tackles with no misses in an extremely solid return.

The foot was a little tender following the game but Woods was confident he could increase his output in the weeks to come and with a couple of crucial games upcoming, the Sharks will need all they can get and more from the representative forward.

 

5 Take ‘em when you can
For the second game in a row, the Sharks managed to score more tries than their opponents but again came up short.

All three conversions were from difficult positions, however one would have tied it, a couple of successful kicks may have tipped the result in the Sharks favour.

But who would have thought an 11th minute penalty goal would eventually prove to be the match winning play.

After they had opened the scoring with a Will Hopoate try from a cross-field kick, a ruck penalty gifted the Bulldogs an 8-0 lead.

That advantage pushed out to 14 with a long range four-pointer and conversion, leaving the Sharks with plenty of work to do.

To their credit the Sharks did battle back, had far the better of the scoring opportunities and crossed for three tries while keeping their opponents scoreless, but the damage had been done.

As in the loss to Canberra, when the Raiders took the two and went from 18-0 to 20 in front midway through the first half, a penalty goal would prove to be the difference.

Sometimes you just take ‘em when you can and in the last two Sharks losses penalty goals and goal kicking has proved to be critical.