The Cronulla Sharks have slumped to a one-and-four start for the first time since 2015, after dropping the local derby to the lowly Dragons 30-16. Pressure is beginning to mount on a number of key players, as well as second-year head coach John Morris. The likes of Shaun Johnson, Andrew Fifita, and Chad Townsend all failed to fire against St. George Illawarra, raising a number of concerns among Sharks fans. The Sharks missed 46 tackles on the day, to go along with 15 errors, in a sluggish effort.
Few players showed any resistance to the Dragons – who had failed to score a single try in their previous two matches against the uninspiring Warriors and Bulldogs. Will Kennedy, who was called into the side late to replace an injured Matt Moylan, ran for 198 metres – more than any other Sharks – and laid on a try assist and a line break assist. Toby Rudolf was the Sharks’ best forward, running for 147 metres and making 26 tackles, whilst Mawene Hiroti, Sione Katoa, and Wade Graham were the Sharks’ only try-scorers. It was a tough day at the office for the Sharks’ centres and wingers, who combined for 8 errors and 18 missed tackles.
A late spine re-shuffle worked wonders for the out-of-form Dragons. Matt Dufty produced one of the best performances of his young career, running for 197 metres, bagging a try, a pair of try assists, 10 tackle breaks and zero errors. Ben Hunt and Cameron McInnes, who shared the hooking role were tremendous for the Red V, combining for 186 run metres, two tries, a try assist and 87 tackles. Paul Vaughan ran for a game-high 204 metres, to accompany his 28 tackles and four tackle breaks.
Following an awful performance against St. George Illawarra, the Sharks look ahead to a Sunday night clash against the struggling Bulldogs. A loss to the Dogs could virtually end the Sharks’ chances of making a finals push, with all eyes watching the performances of Shaun Johnson and Andrew Fifita.