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Sharks down Dragons to stay top of table

The Sharks have made it five on the trot after grinding out a 20-10 victory over arch-rivals the Dragons at PointsBet Stadium on Sunday.

With coach Shane Flanagan returning to Shark Park for the first time as opposition coach, the Dragons were up for the contest, leading 10-6 at half-time, however couldn't match the class of Cronulla who have now won their past eight derby clashes.

An early penalty against St George Illawarra centre Jack Bird for infringing the ruck handed the Sharks a repeat set and Oregon Kaufusi capitalised when he crashed over the line from close range to open the scoring for the home side.

Oregon Kaufusi Try

Both sides then traded errors and sets before the Dragons hit back in the 27th minute with Ben Hunt stamping his authority, creating an overlap on the short side for Mikaele Ravalawa to score. 

Just seconds before the half time sounded, St George Illawarra went ahead, once again beating defenders down the right edge to hand Ravalawa a double and take a 10-6 lead into the break.

Cronulla raced out of the blocks in the second half and after some strong goal line defence by Tyrell Sloan denied Nicho Hynes an early opportunity, the home side had another opportunity two minutes later and Siosifa Talakai barged his way through Hunt and Lomax to put his side in front 12-10.

Siosifa Talakai Try

With legs beginning to tire on the wet track, the match turned into an arm wrestle again before Sione Katoa found himself in space and took the ball 30 metres downfield. 

Then fan favourite Tom Hazelton carried momentum through to the next play, powering over defenders from close range to give Cronulla some breathing room and 'Tommy...Tommy' echoed across Shark Park.

Match Snapshot

  • St George Illawarra forward Tom Eisenhuth made an incredible 63 tackles with just two misses in his first game at secondrow for the Red V.
  • Dragons hooker Jacob Liddle was sent for a HIA in the 55th minute which he later passed.
  • Cronulla cult hero Tom Hazelton has scored three tries in his last three games.

Sloan saves the try

  • Rookie centre Kayal Iro topped the run metres for the Sharks with 171 off 18 carries.
  • Dragons centre Jack Bird celebrated his 150th NRL appearance with five tackle breaks, nine tackles and 83 metres.
  • Dragons fullback Tyrell Sloan was placed on report in the 67th minute for a tripping offence.
  • The Dragons have not won at PointsBet Stadium since 2018.

Play of the Game 

With the game in the balance and just 11 minutes left on the clack, Tom Hazelton barged his way over to find the line for a third-week straight. The 24-year-old had just three tries to his name heading into 2024 but is proving to have a knack for finding the line after crossing for his fourth this season. "He's scoring the tries but he's been really physical and working really hard. He's got a little bit of X factor to his game which is good for us," skipper Cam McInnes said post match.

Thomas Hazelton Try

What They Said 

"I thought it was a good contest and we expected that with the derby and the rivalry. Irrespective of the ladder position, they're just tough, hard games and I thought it was. Right before half time we got rocked a little but there so we had to readjust but I thought it was a really good game and a good win for us." - Sharks coach Shane Fitzgibbon. 

Sharks: Round 9

"We were just awful, never completed sets, never got to our kick and when we did, we didn't nail them down to the corners so it was a frustrating game for me. We didn't give ourselves a chance because of the errors we made and you can't do that against a good, quality side. I've got a football team that can compete against the best football teams in there but we've got to give ourselves a chance and we didn't give ourselves a chance with the errors." - Dragons coach Shane Flanagan

Dragons: Round 9

What's Next

The Sharks head to Melbourne to meet with the Storm for a top-of-the-table clash while the Dragons host the Rabbitohs at Nestrata Jubilee Stadium.

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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