Although they may need other results to go their way in the remaining rounds, the Cronulla Sharks did their job as they defeated the St George Illawarra Dragons in a back-and-forth contest.
With neither side able to hold onto the ascendancy for too long, in the end, it was some Emma Tonegato brilliance that gifted the Sharks the win.
The game began somewhat slowly as both sides were physical and wanted to feel each other out, as you would expect from a local derby.
Though the Sharks would break the ice when Quincy Dodd found Brooke Anderson who spun away from a defender, found a gap and dived over.
Try as they might, both sides were just unable to put on further points for almost thirty minutes, with the Sharks going into the break 6-0 up.
It took some dedication from Tyla Nathan-Wong to get the Dragons on the scoreboard as she won the race to the ball to score just before it went dead.
The game once again entered a holding pattern of big hits and solid defence before the Dragons took the lead for the first time.
Spreading the ball left, Teagan Berry found Shenai Lendill who passed to her open winger in Cortez Te Pou, and she did the rest.
The Sharks would retake the lead somewhat fortuitously as Tonegato’s looping pass ricocheted off the leg of Cassie Staples and Tiana Penitani pounced on the loose ball to score.
The match sealing moment was then all about Emma Tonegato.
She made the initial break to put the Sharks in field position to score before she got back into the line and delivered a looping pass out wide for Cassie Staples to score in the corner.
Tayla Preston then put the icing on the cake with a sideline conversion to give the Sharks an 8-point win.
The only downside for the Sharks might be a nervous wait for Brooke Anderson who was put on report for a high tackle.
Sharks coach Tony Herman praised his side’s toughness, particularly when they were forced to defend for long periods.
“I thought we played really tough,” Herman said.
“They had a lot of ball, they completed really high and we had to defend for long periods.”
Jamie Soward praised his young Dragons side for their courageousness but knows that the last few weeks has been tough.
“We were courageous tonight but we just didn’t have the special juice left in the tank after what’s been a rough five weeks for us,” Soward said.
Cronulla Sharks 16 (Anderson, Penitani, Staples; Goals: Preston 2) def. Dragons 8 (Nathan-Wong, Te Pou).
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