A dominant performance has seen the Cronulla Sharks run away as 42 points to 16 winners over the North Queensland Cowboys in Paul Gallen’s historic game.
After a slow first half, the Cronulla Sharks were able to pour on six second half tries to overcome an unimpressive Cowboys line up, 42-16. Emotions were high for the Sharks, with skipper, Paul Gallen, breaking the record for most games in Sharks’ history, which was previously held by club legend, Andrew Ettingshausen.
Try-scoring doubles for both Chad Townsend and Josh Morris proved to be enough for the Sharks, who stormed to their second consecutive win. Yarrawarrah Tigers junior, Chad Townsend, bagged two exciting tries and ran for a team-high 139 metres. Rookie Blayke Brailey, scored the first four-pointer of his NRL career, as brother Jayden led the team in tackles with 33. Coach John Morris was disappointed with the Sharks’ discipline in the first half but was pleased with his side’s “energy and intent” in the second half, which saw the Sharks take control of the game and secure the victory.
The game, however, was not without it negatives. Matt Moylan, is set to spend the next six weeks on the sideline, after straining his hamstring, with the fullback’s absence set to force the Sharks into an unanticipated backline shift. Paul Gallen’s milestone game did not end ideally – the 37-year-old was forced from the field just twenty-three minutes into the contest with a rib cartilage injury. In good news, however, for Sharks fan, Gallen has been named to face the Parramatta Eels this Saturday.
The Sharks are back in Sydney this weekend, taking on the Eels at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night. Josh Dugan has been named at fullback, in place of Matt Moylan, giving an opportunity for local junior, Bronson Xerri, to make his debut in the right centre position this weekend. There will be little time for Xerri to find his feet, with former Australian representative, Michael Jennings, lining up against him. Off the back of a 32-18 defeat to the defending Premiers, Parramatta coach, Brad Arthur, has made just one change to his seventeen, with rookie, Dylan Brown, ruled out with back issues. Sharks’ junior, Jaeman Salmon, will wear the six jumper in Brown’s place.
Parramatta’s start to the season has been a surprising one, with last year’s wooden spooners winning their first two games, before losing last week to a strong Sydney Roosters team. The Eels have plenty of players Cronulla need to be wary of. Offseason recruit, Blake Ferguson, has started the season on a tear, leading the entire competition for run metres and crossing for three tries in as many appearances. Captain, Clinton Gutherson, has also been superb for Parramatta to start the season. The 24-year-old is top five in the competitions for runs, run metres and try assists, showing how multi-faceted and dangerous the fullback can be. Whilst the Eels have an abundance of strike power in their backline, their forward pack has disappointed in past years. Offseason recruits, Junior Paulo and Shaun Lane, will be crucial in determining the outcome of this clash.
The Eels will be desperate to remove the ‘easy-beats’ tag that plagued the team last season and, with a revamped roster, will be looking to upset the Sharks.
All eyes will be on Cronulla youngster, Bronson Xerri, who will be making his NRL debut, in front of what is sure to be a healthy contingent of friends and family. Cronulla will look to their halves, Shaun Johnson and Chad Townsend, to replicate their form from their past two starts. With Cronulla looking to make it three on the trot and Parramatta looking to re-enter the winners’ circle, fans should expect an exciting game of footy, come Saturday night.