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Sharks let chances slip in Bulldogs loss

Sometimes it maybe isn't meant to be and that would probably be the best way to sum up a disappointing Sharks loss on Saturday night. 

The Sharks created more chances, would have likely come out on top in most statistical categories, were on the end of a handful of tough calls, while at the same time unfortunately bombed numerous scoring opportunities, with the Bulldogs holding on for an 18-12 win. 

In a tense finish the Sharks pressed the line in a bid to send the game to extra time, but it wasn't to be and a third consecutive loss will have them desperate for a change of fortune when they travel to Melbourne to face the Storm next Friday. 

However credit where it is due, and while the Sharks were far from their best in starting slowly then failing to capitalise on a glut of possession in the second half, the Bulldogs defended desperately when they needed to in recording their first win of the 2021 season. 

The first five minutes was all the Bulldogs and a one-on-one missed tackle from the Sharks saw Will Hopoate post first points.

Kyle Flanagan kicked the sideline conversion and it was 6-0 to the Bulldogs.

A 40-metre Connor Tracey kick return put the Sharks into an attacking position soon after and at the end of the set a Shaun Johnson grubber, in his first game of the 2021 season, almost resulted in points however the video referee thought otherwise, with a Briton Nikora try disallowed for a double-movement.

After being denied at one end, the Bulldogs would make the Sharks pay at the other, a cross field kick was fumbled by Cronulla and Nick Cotric gladly accepted the rebound to score.

Again Flanagan was on target and the Sharks had dug themselves an early hole at 12-0 down.

Soon after the Sharks again looked to have opened their account but again the video referee intervened, the bunker ruling Mawene Hiroti had lost the ball in attempting to ground it in the south-eastern corner. 

Not long after the Bulldogs would extend their advantage, Nick Meaney crashing over from close range and with still 17 minutes of the first half left to be played, the visitors led 18-0. 

Siosifa Talakai was sin-binned for a shoulder charge, the Sharks held on with 12-men and had the better of the exchanges late in the opening half, Hiroti coming within inches of scoring on two more occasions only for desperate defence to keep the Cronulla team scoreless. 

Likely on the end of a rousing half time reception from coach Josh Hannay the Sharks returned with plenty of intent and it would take just six minutes for them to register their first try, Blayke Brailey regathering his own grubber kick and grounding the ball.

Chad Townsend kicked the simple conversion to make it 18-6 with still plenty of time on the clock.  

On a night where the Sharks couldn't get a call, a long range Townsend try was called back for an apparent obstruction in the lead up, then Tracey was ruled to have put his foot into touch one metre from the line and the Sharks still had a 12-point deficit to make up with under 15 minutes remaining. 

In emphasising the tough night and how close they had come on numerous occasions, the Tracey no try, followed by a another potential try to Jesse Ramien which was called back by the referee for s forward pass and it was six times the officials had intervened to deny the Sharks points. 

While not questioning the decisions which were later shown to be correct, the seven near misses fav an indication of how the result could easily have gone the Sharks way. 

Hitomi would score late, Townsend converting from the sideline to set up a grandstand finish, but the Bulldogs would defend their line and hold on to claim the two competition points. 

A positive for the Sharks was the fact Johnson came through 60 minutes of the match unscathed in his first game since returning from an Achilles tear suffered late last year. 

The next game for the Sharks is against the Storm in Melbourne, with that match scheduled for a 6.00pm start on Friday night. 

Blake Brailey, Mawene Hiroti tries, Chad Townsend 2 goals 
lost to 

Nick Meaney, Nick Cotric, Will Hopoate tries, Kyle Flanagan 3 goals