A big week ahead

What were the big moments, the game changers, the key points of interest to come from the Sharks loss to the Broncos. Here’s what we thought

1 Adding the extra two can be crucial
Such is the closeness of the NRL competition, key moments, a bounce of the ball here or a decision there, can change the result in a heartbeat.

Also critical, as the Sharks have unfortunately found out over the past three weeks, is goal kicking.

For the third week in a row the Sharks scored more tries than their opposition and lost, apparently the first time any team can claim that unenviable record.

This week a different kicker was tried and in his defence the kicks were all from a wide angle, as was the case the previous week when the Sharks couldn’t land one in the loss to the Bulldogs, but when there is so little between the teams in the NRL in 2019, it can and obviously has proven costly.

Coach John Morris even went to the unprecedented step of keeping Kyle Flanagan on the field in the closing moments almost primarily for the fact he was the most reliable kicker in his team on the day and two points from his boot might have sent the game to extra time.

Back to the drawing board, or at least the kicking tee this week because as we’ve found out, scoring tries is one thing, but adding those extra two points can be crucial.

 

2 Backline taking shape
There was something of a backline reshuffle for the game against the Broncos on Sunday, with Josh Dugan remaining at right centre, Bronson Xerri playing left, with Josh Morris outside the youngster on the left wing.

If looking for a positive to come from the Sharks loss to Brisbane, the backline changes appeared to work a treat.

On the right Dugan and his wing man Sosaia Feki were again strong in defence, while Dugan took his opportunity when presented to cross for the Sharks first try.

On the left they were also getting results, Morris crossing for three tries, two of those coming from good lead up work and a last pass thrown by Xerri.

An injury to Matt Moylan forced a change with Morris going to fullback, however before that shift was made the backline was humming along nicely, causing plenty of issues for the Bronco defence.

Whether or not Moylan is fit to tackle the Storm could throw a spanner in the works, but the backline as it ran out on Sunday certainly showed plenty of potential.

 

3 Three tries in 10 mins
It was a period which appeared to have changed the game in the Sharks favour, with Josh Morris crossing for three tries in the space of just 10 minutes.

The first came in the 44th minute when Xerri showed good hands to put Morris into space, where he still had work to do but managed to stretch out and get the ball down in the north-western corner.

The second was on the end of some brilliant rugby league, Jack Williams running through a yawning gap, finding Jayden Brailey in support, the hooker passing to Matt Moylan, who could have possibly scored himself but made sure of it with a final off-load to Morris.

Then int eh 54th minute of was the combination of Moylan, to Kurt Capewell, with Xerri again the provider in putting Morris away in almost the same spot as his previous two touchdowns.

It could have, and maybe should have, set the Sharks on a course to victory, but if nothing else the three tries in 10 minutes certainly had the PointsBet Stadium crowd on their feet.

 

4 Start better, but Sharks still don’t score first
Their starts each week have been a major cause for concern for the Sharks throughout the 2019 season and while this weekend was better, they still managed to give up first points to their opponents.

Neither side were committing any errors and the referees keeping the whistle in the pockets, with the action going for end to end.

After their abysmal starts in recent weeks the Sharks must have held out hope of being first on the scoreboard, but unfortunately again that wasn’t the case.

But it did take some brilliance from a Bronco debutant to break the duck.

Xavier Coates, still just a teenager, soared high above his opposite number to claim a cross field kick and plant the ball down for his first try in the NRL and the opening points on the afternoon.

The Sharks would score twice to go in front 8-6, but then for the 13th time in 15 games this year, went to half time trailing, this time by 12-8 after giving up a second Brisbane try 10 minutes before the break.

 

5 A big week ahead
On the back of three narrow losses, and now heading to Melbourne to play the Storm on a night when Cameron Smith celebrates his 400th NRL game, the Sharks have a big week ahead.

The Storm are certainly going to be up for the occasion at AAMI Park on Saturday, but as coach Morris said in his post-match press conference, it’s a challenge he is up for, one he hopes his team will relish also well in tightening their focus after a couple of below par outings.

“I’m glad to be honest,” Morris said of the Storm match up. “It’s a battle we look forward to, two teams with history, that’s what we need at the moment. We need to get that physicality back into our game.”

AAMI Park will definitely be a cauldron on Saturday, the Sharks will go in as massive underdogs, but if there is a time to play the Storm, maybe Morris is right and that time is now.