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NRL match review: Cronulla Sharks 18 South Sydney Rabbitohs 10

Scoreboard

Cronulla Sharks 18
Tries: Michael Gordon (7m), Luke Lewis (23m), Jayson Bukuya (74m).
Goals:  Valentine Holmes 1/1 Conversions, 1/1 Penalties. Michael Gordon ½ Conversions.

South Sydney Rabbitohs 10
Tries: Alex Johnston (31m), Chris McQueen (54m).
Goals: Issac Luke 2/2 Conversions.

Match Review

The Sharks overcame arduous conditions and significant blows to their forward pack to win their third game on the trot, knocking off the defending champion Rabbitohs 18-10.

Braving some of the worst footy conditions seen in years, and backed by a maniacal wind, the Sharks jumped out of the gate in the seventh minute through Michael Gordon, followed up by Luke Lewis in the 23rd minute to take the Sharks out to 10 after the conversion. The Bunnies would strike back in the 31st minute through Alex Johnston, the 27th try of his glittering young career. Despite the conditions, the Sharks completed 19/20 sets in the half, a completion rate of 95%, committing just one error. Given the conditions, the Rabbitohs 79% completion rate was impressive also. The Sharks would lead 10-4 at the break, but there was a feeling that perhaps this wouldn’t be enough given the huge wind they had behind them.

Tries were even harder to come by in the second half, with the line not being crossed until the 54th minute when Chris McQueen went over for the Rabbitohs. With a penalty goal the difference, the Sharks maintained their lead through the half, and come the 74th minute would put the nail in the coffin through Jayson Bukuya, converted by Valentine Holmes to extend their lead to eight points which would go on to be the difference. Again despite the conditions, both teams managed to do a great job controlling the ball, the Sharks completing 18/21 sets at 86% in the second stanza, the Rabbitohs 17/20 for 85%.

In a game tailor-made for forwards, the Sharks were without Paul Gallen, along with both Fifita brothers, but found plenty of numbers ready to step up in their absence as five Sharks forwards eclipsed the 100 metre mark. Michael Ennis led from the front with 37 tackles and two try assists, while Luke Lewis scored a try, made 39 tackles and 136 metres, staking his claim to return to the Origin arena. This wasn’t a game for the kickers, but the Rabbitohs still missed the influence of halfback Adam Reynolds with some iffy fifth tackle options. Greg Inglis failed to make the impact we’re accustomed to seeing and committed multiple errors, the brightest spark came in the form of Glenn Stewart with a workman like 54 tackles.

Despite the loss, Souths remain at fourth on the ladder, but share the same record as the teams through to the seventh place Knights. The Sharks sit in tenth, but share the same record as the eighth placed Roosters through to the 15th placed Eels. Points differential is incredibly vital right now, just two wins separates first place and 15th.

NothingButLeague Man of the Match: Michael Ennis

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