Andrew reviews the first game of “Super Saturday”: Cronulla-Sutherland vs Canterbury-Bankstown…
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 6
Tries: Jake Averillo (39)
Goals: Matt Burton (40)
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 18
Tries: Ronaldo Mulitalo (5), Sione Katoa (50), Briton Nikora (63)
Goals: Nicholas Hynes 3 (6, 51, 64)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
With torrential rain at CommBank Stadium, it shaped as a grinding, possibly low-scoring game, but the Sharks scored first through Ronaldo Mulitalo after five minutes. Nicholas Hynes converted for a 6-0 lead.
The Sharks looked like scoring the try of the year a few minutes later, spreading the ball left-to-right through a thousand hands, then going back to the middle, but the Dogs (missing their coach Mick Potter, who was out with COVID-19) not only survived, but went upfield to force a drop out, but then knocked on from the kick-off. It was an incredible passage from both sides that defied the horrible conditions.
Cronulla-Sutherland got a big chance after a Bulldogs knock-on close to their tryline, but an errant pass meant the Sharks couldn’t take advantage.
The grind eventually set in, with errors and ill-discipline in the wet conditions and deluged field. If this was cricket, both sides would be hunkered down in the dressing rooms playing poker. And the umpires would be practicing their golf swings.
There were 13 errors so far in the first half: nine to the Sharks and four to the Bulldogs, but both sides still tried to play attacking footy leading up to half-time.
The Bulldogs were inches from scoring off a lovely Matt Burton kick; but they kept possession, with Jake Averillo eventually scoring off a Jeremy Marshall-King grubber. Burton converted to tie the game 6-6 at the break. It was a credit to the Dogs’ newfound resilience under Potter.
HALF-TIME: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 6 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 6Embed from Getty Images
Cronulla were first to score in the second half, with Sione Katoa touching down in the right corner as Burton was unable to wrap him up. Hynes nailed the tough sideline conversion to give the Sharks a 12-6 lead, which could be crucial with 30 minutes left.
Bad news for Canterbury-Bankstown from the kick-off, with debutant Declan Casey knocked out after crashing into Andrew Fifita. The game was held up as Casey was stretchered off, a scary sight regardless of who you support. How much would that impact the Bulldogs? Especially morale-wise?
The Sharks took advantage with a break downfield and a penalty, but Hynes missed the penalty goal, giving the Dogs a reprieve. Burton then gave the Dogs a scrum from the goal-line drop-out, with his kick just reaching the sideline.
The Bulldogs appeared to be next to score while trying to ground a grubber, but it was ruled no try.
The Sharks sealed the game when Briton Nikora scored a close-range try. Despite trailing 18-6 with 17 minutes left, the Dogs had been gallant in horrible conditions.
The Sharks now have three straight wins to climb back into the top four, but have a nightmare draw ahead: Melbourne (at Shark Park), North Queensland (in Townsville), and Penrith (at Penrith).
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are still a game clear of the dreaded wooden spoon, but they should be safe considering how diabolical the Titans are! Though their Round 19 clash at CommBank should decide it for sure.
FULL-TIME: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 18 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 6
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Siosifa Talakai (Sharks), 2 pts – Nicholas Hynes (Sharks), 1 pt – Jesse Ramien (Sharks)
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