Five unanswered second half tries helped the Sharks overcome an error-riddled first half to finish atop St. George Illawarra 40-8 at Kogarah last night in Nicho Hynes’ first outing of the year.
Cronulla crossed early after a slick shift from inside their own half saw left winger Ronaldo Mulitalo jet into open space before pulling off a deft kick into the waiting arms of fullback William Kennedy up the middle.
The hosts were undeterred, however, with skipper Ben Hunt scooping the ball up off a ricocheted kick and stepping his way to the try-line to answer.
Five minutes later, edge forward Jaydn Su’A found some space on a last-tackle sweep play to dive over in the right corner and hand the Dragons their first lead of the night.
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Su’A’s four-pointer proved the final shining light on an otherwise dreary night for the Red V.
Jesse Ramien took full advantage of a sloppy aerial contest to wrangle the lead back for Cronulla prior to the break before a second-half avalanche broke out.
Possession swung back the way of the visitors after a first half in which they made nine errors and St. George Illawarra’s defensive was unable to cope.
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Mulitalo scored his first of the night in the early stages of the second half before Briton Nikora burst through a hole to put the lead beyond two converted tries.
Mulitalo and Ramien both snagged a second before Sione Katoa joined in on the party to make the scoreboard an ugly sight for Anthony Griffin’s men.
Siosifa Talakai piloted through a penalty goal in the final stages to hit the 40-point mark for the Sharks – the first time they have scored 40 in a local derby since 2007.
As a team, the Sharks ran for an extra 490 metres and won the line break count by a whopping 11 to two whilst breaking more tackles, offloading more, and conceding less penalties.
Hynes was everywhere for the Sharks in his return from a calf complaint assisting on three tries and five line breaks, running for 148 metres with three tackle breaks, and kicking for 257 metres.
Mulitalo had a strong night scoring a double, assisting on another, making three line breaks and running for 125 metres whilst Kennedy scored one and ran for a game-high 180 metres.
Every member of Cronulla’s back five cracked triple-digit run metres whilst only two of their opposites managed the same feat.
Blake Lawrie was the only Dragons forward to run for 100 metres-plus finishing with a team-high 134 run metres from 19 carries and 38 tackles.
The Sharks are back at PointsBet Stadium next Sunday afternoon to face the 3-1 Warriors as they eye a jump into the top four for the first time this season.
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