Injuries hurt the Sharks in 2018, falling just short of the grand final.
2018 Club Record
Competition Points: 34 (4th place)
2018 Player Achievements
Monty Porter Medal: Valentine Holmes
Most Tries: Valentine Holmes (22)
Most Points: Chad Townsend (148)
The Cronulla Sharks finished fourth in 2018, after being eliminated by the Melbourne Storm in the preliminary final at AAMI Park.
It was a slow start to the year, who won their first game in round three against Parramatta. After gaining a few new players including Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan at the beginning of the year, the Sharks struggled to solidify their line up, trying to gel new partnerships and find their fullback. After a few rounds, coach Shane Flanagan decided to give the fullback role to Holmes, have Matt Moylan paired with Townsend in the halves and put Dugan in the centres. This placement worked well towards the back end of the year when the Sharks found their feet.
Injuries played a big part in Cronulla’s season, with many key players spending time on the sideline for varying periods throughout the season. Co-captain Wade Graham has been a key player for the Sharks for a few years, and with his injuries keeping him out for a portion of the season, the Sharks had to learn to adapt without his presence which was proven to be a difficult task, especially when it got towards the last few rounds and into the finals. Dugan – who played in the centres and on the wing – was also absent for a number of games, causing a number of line up changes throughout the year in the centres and on the wings.
Cronulla seemed to meet pre-season expectations, with many experts predicting a top four finish from the club. Finishing fourth did not come easily, after only managing to gain momentum and come into form late in the season. Their spot in the top four was solidified in the final round of the competition, gaining the two competition points that separated them and the Penrith Panthers who sat below them on 15 wins.
The James Maloney and Matt Moylan swap was a worry during the pre-season where the halves partnership was concerned. Maloney clicked well with Townsend, and fans worried that Moylan wouldn’t connect in the same way – which turned out to be true until the back end of the year. Had Moylan and Townsend clicked earlier on, the end result for Cronulla may have been different.
In the end, Cronulla had a great year, and where they finished is a testament to their abilities to adapt without key players on the field.
NothingButLeague Player of the Season
It’s hard to go past naming Holmes, who was Cronulla’s best and most consistent player throughout the year, playing and involving himself in every single game throughout the season. After being given the fullback role, he was one of the most invaluable and valued players on the Cronulla roster for 2018.
Holmes scored 22 tries, the most of any player in the club this season. In Cronulla’s round 24 match against Newcastle, Holmes broke the club record for the most tries in a season, which was held by David Peachey, who scored 19 tries in 1999.
Holmes is a classy player and an important member for Cronulla, who are hoping to keep him in the Shire long-term.
2019 GAINS AND LOSSES
Josh Morris (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Toby Rudolf (ISP Redcliff Dolphins), Aaron Woods (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs).
Kurt Dillon (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Trent Hodkinson (Manly Sea Eagles), Edrick Lee (Newcastle Knights), Ricky Leutele (Toronto Wolfpack), Luke Lewis (retired), Joseph Paulo (St Helens RLFC), Jesse Ramien (Newcastle Knights), James Roumanos (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs).