The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks handed Melbourne Storm their second loss in three weeks.
The Melbourne Storm were favourites heading into this Friday night fixture due to Cronulla-Sutherland’s long injury list. It was a great start by the Sharks as Sione Katoa crossed for the opener after five minutes. The Storm then replied with two tries within the next 15 minutes to Origin winger Josh Addo-Carr and Kenny Bromwich – which put Melbourne ahead 12-6. Rookie sensation Briton Nikora crossed in the 34th minute and a conversion from Kyle Flanagan meant the two sides would go into the sheds locked at 12-all.
Melbourne started the second half with a few errors which allowed Cronulla to lead 14-12 thanks to a penalty goal and minutes later scored the first try of the second half through Braden Hamlin-Uele. The Sharks dominated field possession as they led 20-12 for the majority of the second half and it was through rookie Ryan Papenhuyzen that gave the Storm a chance as he scored his first try of his career with four minutes left on the clock. Solid defence to close out the game from Cronulla saw them trump the Storm 20-18 in a Friday night classic.
Possession is key
The Sharks managed to have 56% of the ball throughout the match and had possession of the ball for an entire seven minutes longer than the Storm did. This allowed the Sharks to control the game and denied Cameron Smith the opportunity to control the game and slow the clock down.
Uncharacteristic errors from Melbourne
Melbourne made nine errors and gave away eight penalties, which is very unlike them. Normally they are known for their professionalism and discipline on the field and I’m sure Craig Bellamy will be doing everything he can this week – and throughout the season – to keep this side disciplined on the field.
Sharks bench wins battle of the benches
Melbourne’s bench played a total of 87 minutes on Friday night and 144 run metres and 62 tackles whilst Cronulla’s bench combined for a total of 128 minutes and totalled 369 run metres and 41 tackles. Cronulla’s bench had just over two-and-a-half times the run metres that Melbourne’s bench produced. Melbourne might need to look for extra go-forward of the bench in the coming weeks.
What to do with Dugan
Josh Dugan returned from injury this week and replaced Will Kennedy at fullback. He did manage to have 176 run metres, albeit 91 of those were from kick returns. It was his first game back but Dugan didn’t really make his case as to why he should be the club’s permanent fullback.
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 20
Tries: Sione Katoa, Briton Nikora, Braden Hamlin-Uele
Goals: Kyle Flanagan 4/5
Melbourne Storm 18
Tries: Josh Addo-Carr, Kenneath Bromwich, Ryan Papenhuyzen
Goals: Cameron Smith 3/4
Cronulla: 21. Josh Dugan 20. Aaron Gray 3. Bronson Xerri 4. Josh Morris 5. Sione Katoa 6. Kyle Flanagan 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Briton Nikora 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Paul Gallen (c). Interchange: 14. Blayke Brailey 15. Jason Bukuya 16. Jack Williams 17. Braden Hamlin-Uele
Melbourne: 1. Jahrome Huges 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Will Chambers 4. Marion Seve 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Brodie Croft 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith (c) 15. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane. Interchange: 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 16. Tui Kamikamica 17. Ryan Papenhuyzen 19. Patrick Kaufusi