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Sharks home in a thriller at Bankwest

Sharks Coach John Morris summed it up at his post match press conference, saying that while it may not have been the best win he  has ever been involved with, it was perhaps one of the most important, with the Cronulla side escaping with a 20-18 victory over the Bulldogs. 

In climbing off the bottom of the NRL ladder in notching their second win of the 2020 season, the Sharks looked to be cruising to a comfortable win, before having to hang on in the final moments. 

Three tries to winger Sione Katoa was a highlight, two engineered by Shaun Johnson, the other by Chad Townsend, with new boy Bryson Goodwin also getting across the line in giving the Sharks a shot of confidence after a slow start to the year. 

In another positive Matt Moylan also come through his first game back unscathed, despite being smashed in a tackle midway through the second half, in another boost for the Cronulla team. 

Showing good intent early the Sharks managed to open the scoring, Townsend throwing a well-timed cut out for Katoa to cross, the winger touching down in typically acrobatic style. 

Johnson was picture perfect with his conversion attempt and the Sharks led 6-0 after the opening 14 minutes of the match. 

The Sharks had the better of the chances in the next 10 minutes of contest however a combination of committed Bulldogs defence and a couple of Cronulla errors saw them fail to add to their total and it would be their opponents who would level. 

After three consecutive sets at the Sharks line a well worked move saw fullback Will Hopoate split the defence to go over and with the Jake Averillo goal it was 6-all after 30 minutes. 

The Sharks were reduced to 12 men inside the final five minutes of the half, Briton Nikora sent to the sin bin for what was deemed to be repeated play the ball infringements but they would hold on, the two teams going to the break locked up and with all to play for in the second period. 

The Cronulla side came out of the sheds with plenty of enthusiasm in their defensive effort and capitalising on that momentum they would retake the lead, a second Katoa try, after a freakish pick up from a long Johnson pass, making it 12-6 seven minutes into the half. 

That man Katoa was in the game again soon after and again Johnson laid on the try, on this occasion from a grubber kick and although the conversion attempt was waved away, at 16-6 some 53 minutes into the game the Sharks had a nice advantage. 

An opportunistic try to the Bulldogs, Kieran Foran winning the race to an Adam Elliot kick and after Averillo added the extras it was 16-12 and anyones match once again. 

In his first  game back in Cronulla colours Bryson Goodwin would cross in the north western corner of Bankwest Stadium from a perfectly judged Townsend kick and while Johnson couldn't convert from the wide angle, now eight in front with time running out it appeared the Sharks would grind out a crucial win. 

The Bulldogs would however give themselves a glimmer of hope with four minutes to go, Christian Crichton taking an intercept and running the length of the field but the Sharks managed to hang tough in claiming their second victory of the 2020 season. 

Katoa displayed his brilliant finishing ability with a hat trick of tries, Johnson and Townsend both had two try assists on the night, forward Toby Rudolf and Aaron Woods battled hard in the middle and Josh Dugan, while also spending some time at fullback in the second half, continued his good run of form. 

It was also a night where crowds were invited to return, albeit in small numbers, with 419, mostly Sharks fans and corporate partners, in attendance. 

The Sharks play Manly at Central Coast Stadium in their next assignment, that game kicking off at 4.00pm next Sunday. 

 

Minute by Minute scoring 

14 mins - Katoa try Johnson goal - Sharks 6-0
30 mins - Hopoate try, Averillo goal - 6-all 
half time 
47 mins - Katoa try, Johnson goal - Sharks 12-6 
53 mins - Katoa try - Sharks 16-6
57 mins - Foran try, Averillo goal - Sharks 16-12
66 mins - Goodwin try - Sharks 20-12
76 mins - Crichton try, Averillo goal - Sharks 20-18

 

SHARKS 20
Sione Katoa 3, Bryson Goodwin tries, Shaun Johnson 2 goals
beat
BULLDOGS 18
Will Hopoate, Keiran Foran, Christian Crichton tries, Jake Averillo 3 goals

Crowd - 419