In possibly the poorest quality NRL game this year, the Cronulla Sharks have again defended stoutly for most of the second half to hold out the Rabbitohs 12-10 at ANZ Stadium.
With two tries apiece, it was the goal kicking of Luke Covell that got the Sharks home – consigning the South Sydney side to 0 wins from 5 stars in the 2008 NRL.
With both sides battling to find cohesion in attack, the Bunnies resorted to constant 1 out plays that did actually see them get plenty of metres up the middle of the field. But when the Rabbitohs got within 20m of the Sharks line it all fell down, dropped ball, poor passing, mix-up’s and poor kicking saw them turn the ball over consistently.
Even after several repeat sets and wave after wave of pressure, the Bunnies couldn’t crack the Sharks line. To Cronulla’s credit, they dug deep and with little ball or field position in the second half they were still able to grind out the win.
The game wasn’t without controversy. Jason Taylor risking a fine and possible loss of competition points if his team won, by calling the whole team off the field at one stage after a try was scored. The coach using the time to give his players a pep-talk in scenes never before seen in the NRL.
In a game where there were plenty of penalties, the ruck area was again under the spotlight. This time it was the Sharks’ Greg Bird performing what was a ‘soccer dive’ in what is a really sad situation for the NRL. Previously warning of ramifications before, the NRL needs to clamp down on this immediately and should cite Greg Bird for this poor act of play. The referee having no choice but to blow a penalty, but gee it was a shockingly overdone dive.
The Sharks never seem far from the spotlight, with the previous Gallen incidents earlier this year and his well highlighted dive last year – now Greg Bird gets to join his bash brother in the hall of shame.
For the Sharks, their forwards deserve the accolades. Consistently putting in and churning out the metres, without Lance Thompson – they all lifted a gear. Luke Covell and Brett Kearney were impressive at the back, both defending well and getting their team out of danger on several occasions.
Brett Kimmorley was impressive without being outstanding and continues to remain a choice for NSW Origin selectors.
For Souths it’s back to the drawing boards and without the likes of Issac Luke and Craig Wing running their attack plays, a win still looks a long way off for the Redfern boys.