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Second half Sharks comeback falls short

Again a slow start and poor first half has derailed the Sharks, with a spirited second half comeback falling short in a 32-22 loss to Souths in their Magic Round clash. 

Poor ball control and discipline in the first half saw the Rabbitohs jump out to a 20-0 lead, and while they showed plenty of resolve in the second 40, two late Souths tries would eventually seal the Sharks fate. 

The loss was the sixth in a row for a Cronulla side now desperate for a change of fortune to keep their finals hopes flickering. 

After a smart grubber kick earned them a repeat set the Rabbitohs were first on the board, Keaton Koloamatangi running onto a short ball from Benji Marshall and following the Adam Reynolds conversion Souths led 6-0. 

A penalty goal kicked by Reynolds made it 8-0 after 14 minutes and Souths would go further ahead  when Marshall found Alex Johnson with a long cut out pass for the winger to score in the corner. 

Reynolds was again on target from the western sideline and with the lions share of the ball, with the Rabbitohs enjoying 75 percent of possession in the opening 20 minutes, they would lead 14-0. 

Souths would be reduced to 12 men, but it didn't stop their momentum, Dane Gagai breaking through the Sharks line then finding Cody Walker in support, the fullback running 35 metres to score adjacent to the uprights. 

The Reynolds conversion it was 20-0 Souths however the Sharks would respond before the half time break. 

With just three minutes on the clock a well timed pass from Chad Townsend put Will Kennedy into a hole and the Sharks fullback did the rest, running 30 metres untouched for his teams first points of the night. 

Townsend kicked the simple conversion and the teams would go to the break with the Rabbitohs leading 20-6. 

The second half turned into something of an arm wrestle, the teams going set for set however the probably had the better of the field position and momentum and after a couple of opportunities went begging, they were rewarded for their efforts. 

A final tackle kick was contested by Andrew Fifita, the big front rower regaining the ball before off-loading for Aaron Woods to score his second try of the season and the Sharks second of the night and after the conversion with still 20 minutes to go the Cronulla side had given themselves a chance of a comeback victory. 

If the previous try had given the Sharks hope, a Briton Nikora touchdown with 12 minutes left on the clock, running onto a smart short ball from Matt Moylan, gave them even more belief, despite the unsuccessful kick at goal from Townsend it was 20-16. 

From that point the rub of the green certainly favoured their opponents, a dubious penalty for a supposed crusher put the Rabbitohs on the attack, then the final nail was applied when what seemed to be a pass off the ground resulted in a try. 

Souths would cross for another from the kickoff, Mawene Hiroti would answer for the Sharks in the dying moments, with the scoreline not a true indication of how close the Cronulla side came to pulling off a backs to the wall win.  

Coach Josh Hannay in the post-match presser was obviously disappointed with the result, but at least pleased with the second half response as well as the performances of Brayden Trindall in a utility role, Matt Moylan who looked sharp at five eighth and Fifita in his first game in the top grade this season. 

The Sharks now have a short turnaround into a Friday night local derby match against the Dragons in round 12. 

SOUTHS 32
Cody Walker 2, Keaton Koloamatangi, Alex Johnson, Jai Arrow tries, Adam Reynolds 4 goals 
beat
SHARKS 22
Aaron Woods, Will Kennedy, Briton Nikora, Mawene Hiroti tries, Chad Townsed 3 goals