Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs 16
Tries: J. Morris, F. Pritchard, M. Lichaa
Goals: Hodkinson 2/3
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 18
Tries: M. Gordon, P. Gallen, V. Holmes
Goals: Gordon 1/1 Holmes 2/3
The Cronulla Sharks have won a tough road trip to Belmore courtesy of a gritty 18-16 victory over a lacklustre Canterbury Bulldogs side.
In a dour affair full of mistakes and penalties, the writing was on the cards early for the Dogs, with the Sharks opening the scoring and a lead they wouldn’t give up at any stage in the contest.
Michael Ennis was deservedly named man of the match in the contest, brilliantly guiding the Cronulla club around the park from dummy half, and causing headaches for the Bulldogs defence.
In true Shark’s fashion the game was still alive for the homeside until the final whistle, despite their poor performance.
Michael Gordon opened the scoring for Cronulla in the 13th minute of the match, after an Ennis inside ball to a charging Wade Graham allowed the Sharks second rower to set up his fullback under the posts.
The Bulldogs hit back shortly after when the video referee awarded Josh Morris a try despite some solid defence from Luke Lewis over the line to almost hold the Canterbury centre up. Hodkinson couldn’t convert, leaving the home side trailing by two points.
Both teams had their chances to add to the scoreboard, with Siosaia Feki going closest, the Sharks’ winger however unable to grab a Wade Graham grubber to extend the margin, leaving the score at 6-4 at the break.
The second half started poorly for the Shark’s with skipper Paul Gallen put on report for a crusher tackle on Josh Morris however following Frank Pritchard losing the ball over the try line, the visitors soon turned it around.
The Sharks piled on the pressure and finally came up with points when Ennis through a short cut out pass to Paul Gallen who crashed over for a simple but vital Cronulla Sharks try and a 12-4 lead after 52 minutes.
They then extended the margin again, when Ennis kicked for Valentine Holmes to score, and at 16-4 the game looked to be done and dusted, instead however, the game came alive for a frantic finish.
The home side found themselves in attacking territory and Josh Reynolds skipped his way across field to put the opposition defence in disarray allowing Pritchard to cross under the posts and close the margin to a converted try with 15 minutes to play.
Josh Morris looked to have scored however big Pritchard turned from hero to villain by holding back Jack Bird to cost his side an obstruction penalty instead.
The Sharks looked to stop the Bulldogs via a Holmes field goal attempt, which was sprayed wide. The game took a twist however, with Josh Reynolds placed on report and penalised for taking Holmes late and high after the attempt. Holmes then potted the penalty goal to extend the margin back to eight.
And while the Bulldogs scored another through Michael Lichaa, Cronulla held their nerve for a two point victory that saw them jump to 6th on the premiership ladder.