The Cronulla Sharks proved too strong for the improved Canterbury Bulldogs as they were able to earn an 18-6 victory in heavy rain affected conditions.
After a couple of convincing victories that gave Bulldogs fans something to believe in, the Bulldogs entered the Saturday afternoon affair with another win in sight.
The Sharks prepared for the contest with a chance to cement their spot in the top four after a hollow victory over the out of form Titans.
Just a couple of sets into the afternoon is all it took for viewers to quickly recognise the sloppy but brutal match ahead for the players. Significant rain was sure to be a huge factor all day.
The rain created a massive opportunity for Matt Burton’s difficult bombs to be launched, which he was successful with in his origin debut for the Blues last Sunday evening.
The Sharks impressively got the ball rolling through a coast to coast set, before the slick left edge of Siosifa Talakai and Ronaldo Mulitalo combined for the first try of the match.
Nicho Hynes slotted the conversion from the sideline to give the sharks the six point advantage early.
Surprisingly, both sides played some exciting footy despite the extreme conditions, both generating length of the field sets.
Hynes struggled slightly with the rain as his kicking game seemed to be impacted with multiple errors, including one kick out on the full and another creating a seven tackle set.
The back and forth six-point game continued for half an hour of footy before Tevita Pangai Junior exited the field with an ankle complaint.
As the half had almost come to a close, the Bulldogs were able to put a try of their own on the board on the back of a Cronulla knock-on through a Jeremy Marshall-King grubber that sat up perfectly for Jake Averillo.
The simple conversion from Burton brought the scores level heading into the second half.
The second half began with a lack of promising news with Pangai Jnr ruled out of the match.
Five minutes later, the Sharks edged their way back in front through a long Hynes pass to Sione Katoa in the corner. Hynes was again able to convert from the sideline.
Declan Casey’s debut will be one he is unlikely to remember after he was knocked out cold when attempting to tackle Andrew Fifita o on the next play.
Casey was stretchered off, putting an unfortunate end to his first game at the top level.
The Sharks edged further in front with 16 minutes to play with Briton Nikora bursting through the Bulldogs’ line to score his second of the season.
A tough task was set for the Bulldogs following the Hynes conversion as they’d have to overcome a 12 point margin with just over as many minutes to play.
The remainder of the game allowed the Sharks to unwind after a better performance than the last they put forward and record a third consecutive victory as well as remain in the top four.
They will play the second placed Melbourne Storm next Thursday at home in a blockbuster.
The Bulldogs were far from disgraced, in fact they continue to put up competitive performances and appear to be on the way up.
They head into the bye 13th on the ladder.
Cronulla – 18
R. Mulitalo, S. Katoa, B. Nikora
Conversions- N. Hynes 3/3, Penalty Goals- 0/1
Canterbury-Bankstown – 6
Conversions- M. Burton 1/1
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Ronaldo Mulitalo (CRO)
2. Jeremy Marshall-King (CBY)
1. Nicho Hynes (CRO)