It was a win that the Sharks thoroughly deserved, as they shut out the St George Illawarra Dragons 12-0 at Shark Park, in front of a sell-out crowd for the local derby.
The win gives Sharks five-eighth Todd Carney even more to cheer about, as he is close to gaining a recall to the Origin arena, playing better than his compatriot, in Jamie Soward.
The win came down to some terrific all-round defence from the Sharks, as they held the Dragons scoreless in a rugby league game for the first time since 1973.
“I definitely want to be there for Origin. I have wanted to ever since I started in first grade when I was 18,” Carney said.
“There’s been opportunities when I could have been there and I feel I am ready for it and I just want to put my hand up and give it a crack.
“It would be a big tick for me and a pat on the back for me if I get a call, but there are lots of other blokes in the mix who are playing good footy.”
Whilst coach Shane Flanagan was pleased with the way Carney played, his main focus was to heap praise on his entire side for their defensive efforts, in preventing the Dragons from penetrating the line.
“We gave them plenty of opportunities to have a crack at us but they were brave and courageous and cannot wrap them enough,” Flanagan said.
“But it’s a long season and I don’t want to get too excited, but we are heading in the right direction that is for sure.”
The only downside for the Sharks, was a potential season-ending injury to fullback Nathan Gardner, who was carried from the field with a suspected anterior cruciate ligament injury.
“He’s pretty distressed in there, but he’ll have scans tomorrow, but it looks like he’s done his knee,” Flanagan said.
For Dragons coach Steve Price, he lamented his side’s poor execution in attack, with the Dragons failing to capitalise on a string of dominant possessions.
The loss is the Dragons second successive loss at Shark Park, having lost the same fixture last year.
“It makes it pretty difficult when you make five errors on first tackle,” Price said.
“Our execution at times was quite poor, but I have said to the guys in there our effort was tremendous.
“We’ve got a bit of work to do but I am sure we’ll fix it.”
There was a bit of controversy however, with the Dragons winger Jason Nightingale claiming a try on the right sideline, in what would have produced a grandstand finish – only to see video referee Russell Smith say no try.
Video replays show that Nightingale’s foot heel was in the air and not on the line, and thus the try should have been awarded.
“It was difficult that one. The video ref made that decision, but it was hard to see if he was on the line or not,” Price said.