Ricky Ricardo: Sharks doing enough to win

Cronulla Sharks beat South Sydney Rabbitohs NRL Round 5 2008The South Sydney Rabbitohs had the chance to get off to the perfect start in tonights match, missing a strong early chance – in the end, this turning out to be the story of their night; close but no cigar for the misfiring Rabbitohs. Despite a gallant effort from co captains Roy Asotasi and David Kidwell, the Rabbitohs could not deliver the knockout punch to steal victory from the gritty and determined Cronulla Sharks.

It was obviously the battle of two teams who struggle to turn on the entertainment in attack, while the overall closeness of the contest was enjoyable – it was simply a matter of the Sharks doing enough to win and the Rabbits struggling to string more than 2 passes together after the most dummy half running we have seen from a team since Manly in 2005.

Brett Kimmorley and Brad Seymour both having strong games for the Sharks, using a smart kicking game, forcing the Rabbitohs backline to work hard to get the ball out of their own in-goal area. The Sharks through sheer weight of defence, let the Rabbitohs back into the game when they scored 10 unanswered points. However the robust, scrambling defence of the Sharks got them home. Kimmorley playing a vital role in his sides win, playing strongly without overdoing it and certainly keeping his chances for Origin in good stead.

Brett Kearney also stood out thanks to his goal-line defence and blistering runs out of dummy half wreaking havoc for the Rabbitohs. Kearney has been such a weapon for Cronulla in 2008, injured for much of last season his acceleration is comparable to that of Kurt Gidley and the two custodians are not dissimilar in their classy efforts from the back.

The Sharks opened the scoring in the 13th minute courtesy of a Greg Bird try as Brett Kimmorley signaled his intentions early with some excellent last tackle options. Some poor ball handling skills by the Sharks just before half time, gave the Rabbitohs a glimmer of hope. The Rabbitohs chipping aways at the Sharks line until it finally cracked right on half time, big John Sutton crashing over to give his side some hope in the second term.

Overall in a mediocre affair, the Sharks were impressive in their defence and coach Ricky Stuart would have been happy with their effort especially in the second half. Coach Stuart acknowledging in the post game interview that he is still happy with the Sharks performances despite still struggling to score points.

The Sharks remain at the top of the NRL Ladder joining the likes of the Broncos, Roosters and Titans as early pace setters. Only time will tell if the no-name Sharks can maintain their early form and keep up with the larger squads of the Roosters, Storm and Broncos.

As for the Rabbitohs, despite a spirited performance, they remain winless after five rounds. The pressure will keep mounting on the club as well as on coach Jason Taylor. He also risks a fine for the controversial on field gathering of players during game time. But in a game of boring, tight football – it was certainly a case of the Sharks, doing just enough to win. Something they are managing to do more consistently in 2008.

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