Bronson bags the matchwinner

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

 

1 Bronson bags the matchwinner
Late in the second half with the game on the line, Bronson Xerri found some space and made a dash for the try line.

With a hole opening up, coupled with his acceleration and speed, Xerri looked a moral to score and to give his team a buffer inside the last 10 minutes of the match.

Amazingly, and credit where it is due, Dragons hooker Cameron McInnes made a remarkable cover tackle, collecting Xerri ball and all before turning him over and holding him up in the in-goal.

At that moment, most Sharks fans, along with probably coach John Morris, could be forgiven for thinking it might not be their night.

However not long after, the 18-year-old was in the game again, this time collecting a loose ball after the Dragons had let a Shaun Johnson bomb bounce and there would be no stopping him.

Xerri sprinted away, diving over adjacent to the uprights and while there may have been some controversy surrounding the play, it turned out to be the match winner.

He had to win it twice, but the youngster certainly showed his worth again yesterday afternoon.

 

2 Wade's ‘’hand of god’’
It won’t be as famous and wasn’t anywhere near as memorable, however a couple of media scribes were calling Wade Graham’s ‘no-touch’ in the lead up to the Xerri match-winner, the ‘hand of god’, comparing the play to that of Argentinian Diego Maradona at the 1986 soccer World Cup.

The Xerri touchdown was sent to the video referee for review, but after the on-field officials had ruled a try, found insufficient evidence to overrule, much to the surprise of many in commentary and understandably an equally perplexed Dragons coach Paul McGregor.

Later Graham admitted the ball may have brushed him, although at the same time he disputed that the ball had in fact gone forward.

It was the key moment, the match-winner, the game changer, a huge call from the officials and one which on this occasion went the way of the Sharks.

‘Hand of god’, maybe not quite, but many at the Sharks were thanking their lucky stars that a big call had gone their way after a season of frustration.

 

3 Celebrating the skipper
Paul Gallen’s 344th game in the NRL came on a night where he would lead the Sharks out as captain for the 200th time, representing another magical milestone in what has been a celebrated career.

Turning 38 during the week, Gallen again showed age is just a number, leading the charge for his team in what was a crucial game with finals hopes on the line.

Gallen, as he has done for the better part of 20 years, led from the front, topping his teams run metres, notching 218 in all, while making 33 tackles in his 55 minutes on the field.

Pleased with the win, the captain’s frustrations after the final siren were obvious, expressing to Sharks TV that it was a vital win and important two competition points, but at the same time he was disappointed his side failed to take their chances in the first half and were forced to win it in the dying minutes with the Xerri try.

It was sure to be a message Gallen will be also relaying to his team in preparation for the Warriors this weekend, to take the chances when offered.

Unfortunately for Gallen and the Sharks in 2019, its been a recurring theme, poor finishing and low completion rates costing them dearly on more than one occasion this season.

The good news to come out of the derby win is that the Sharks are still in the hunt and the fairy-tale finish for the skipper, although challenging, is still alive.   

 

4 Moylan frustrations continue
It has been a difficult season to say the least for Sharks star Matt Moylan.

Knee and hamstring problems, then a concussion which knocked him out for a week, has seen Moylan run out for just 11 of the 21 games played this year.

Unfortunately, his frustrating run with injury continued on Sunday when Moylan returned after half time with strapping around his leg, he tore it off soon after, but was then forced from the field in the 49th minute when the hamstring soreness had alarm bells ringing for the Sharks medical staff.

Tightness in the hammy is one thing, tearing it a whole other matter, and with only three rounds of the regular season remaining it was a risk they weren’t prepared to take.

When he is on the field, the Sharks attack has an added dimension, emphasised by Moylan throwing the last pass for Sosaia Feki to score on Sunday.

If only we could see more of it. Moylan would love that to be the case, as would his coach and all Sharks fans. Let’s hope that is the case in the run to the finals where his x-factor could provide the boost the team needs.

 

5 Woodsy cashes in
His job is to win the middle of the field, whether it be through his tough carries with the ball or with dominating defence.

If asked, he would probably say leave the try scoring to the ‘glamour boys’ out in the back line.

While that might be the case, it’s always nice to get one when on offer and when Aaron Woods won the race to a clever Jayden Brailey grubber, the celebrations were taking place on the field, but also by some in the stands and watching at home as well.  

A good friend of the big front rowers regularly makes a wager on Woods to be the first try scorer and on this occasion he was set to collect, and at the juicy PointsBet odds of 45-1.

His mate is probably only now at break even, considering it was Woods’s first four-pointer this year and only his second in 24-games for the Cronulla club.  But with a bit of luck there a couple more still to come and he can continue to cash in on Woodsy in 2019 .