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Sharks undermanned and outclassed

Will Botoulas, Melbourne Correspondent NRL.com Sat, Aug 16, 2014 - 9:00 PM

Paul Gallen gets an offload away during his return for the Sharks against Melbourne on Saturday. Copyright: Brett Crockford.

You had to feel for Cronulla as it was handed a 48-6 football lesson at the hands of Melbourne Storm on Saturday.

A six-tries-to-nil first half did the damage as the visitors looked lost throughout the opening stanza, with just 32 per cent of possession and 688 fewer metres.

After keeping the Warriors, one of the competition's best attacking teams, scoreless in the second half last week that defensive effort was virtually non existent on Saturday night.

Skipper Paul Gallen fought to the bitter end with 204 metres in his first game back in four weeks.

The Sharks were slightly more competitive in the second half but overall it was a step backwards on a night that greatly disappointed coach James Shepherd.

"It was a poor performance for us, there is no doubt," Shepherd said.

"On the back of what we did last week, we defended really well and that wasn't there tonight so it was really disappointing.

"I think the first couple of tries were us but from that point, the possession they had, they are a quality team with such good a good dummy half, halfback and fullback. If given that much possession they are capable of coming up with those points."

With plenty of key personnel left back at the Shire it was always going to be an uphill battle for the Sharks to compete.

Against a perennial finals contender in Melbourne, experience was a telling factor.

Eighteen missed tackles in the first half and 29 for the game in total perhaps told the story.

"It is certainly a fact that we are less experienced than the Storm. Whether it is a factor in how we performed I suppose you could say it is but I am not sure as to what extent," said Shepherd.

"Defending is the hard part of the game so you get really tired when you had to defend like we had to. We looked worse than we were probably capable of in that first half."

The Sharks will host the Raiders in what could be a game to decide the wooden spoon next Sunday afternoon.