It is not often that you see a Dragons side coached by Wayne Bennett outplayed and outsmarted in a match, but, that is exactly what we saw last night, as a rampant Sharks side, full of commitment and belief, stunned the reigning premiers 16-10.
After suffering a heavy defeat in Rd 1, Cronulla captain Paul Gallen called his side a NSW Cup side, and said that even a team from that competition would have beaten them last week.
Despite the horrid weather, with pouring rain coming and going sporadically, just over 12,000 braved the rain and the cold to watch the upset, one that many would not have seen coming.
The Sharks were in total control of the match, and kept the Dragons scoreless at the break, before two late tries added some respectability to the score for the Bennett-coached Dragons.
It was a sign that the Sharks will not be pushovers, but also how even the teams are in this years NRL competition, as any team, can beat any other, on any given day.
Despite the win however, Paul Gallen denied any talks of a revival for the club, and says that they have to play like this every week.
“We spoke about (bashing them) during the week, that’s what we had to do, but in saying that, it’s not hard to get up for St George – they’re the premiers, everyone lifts for them,” Gallen said.
“The big thing for us is playing next week, that’s what we have to do.
“We’ve set a benchmark for ourselves today and there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to play like that most weeks if not every week.”
Another sour note for the Dragons despite the loss, was the re-occurrence of the chronic groin injury that has plagued prop Michael Weyman, who will undergo scans today on his injured groin.
“I thought we were out-enthused and out-played,” Bennett said.
“We knew what we were in for and didn’t have the intensity we need to play at this level.
“I don’t think anybody thought it was just a matter of turning up, but in the end that’s what it looked like.
“We didn’t turn up tonight and that’s something we’ve been really good at.”
Dally M Points
3 Paul Gallen
2 Jeremy Smith
1 Albert Kelly
CRONULLA 16 (B Pomeroy 2 A Tupou tries J Williams 2 goals W Graham A Kelly field goals) btST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 10 (J Nightingale K Stanley tries J Soward goal) at Toyota Stadium. Referee: Jason Robinson, Chris James. Crowd: 12,183.