It was an ambush at Shark Park back in Round 20 as the visitors ran away 36-4 winners. To be fair, the home side was without talismanic skipper Paul Gallen. Key playmaker Todd Carney probably shouldn’t have played either due to an abdominal strain and it was borne out in his performance: Carney turned in easily his worst game of the season, including three errors and seven missed tackles.
Carney ran just three times for 18 metres and also failed to contribute a line-break or try assist. He missed the following week’s one-point loss to the Panthers before returning with a bang in the Round 22 trouncing of the Warriors.
Canberra scored early as halfback Sam Williams strolled through some flimsy defence before centre Jarrod Croker latched onto a McCrone cross-field kick to make it 12-0. Further poor defence allowed Josh Papalii and Blake Ferguson to score before Cronulla bench forward Mark Taufau reeled one back to make it 24-4 at the break.
Canberra fullback Josh Dugan was a late call-up in jersey No. 19 after a three-game layoff with an ankle injury. But he made his presence felt in the 65th minute when he surged out of the line to intercept a long pass from Carney as the Sharks were on the attack. His length-of-the-field try made it 30 points to the Green Machine, before a converted try to Croker completed Cronulla’s embarrassment and rounded out a personal 20-point haul for the centre.
Every member of the Canberra backline gained more than 100 metres although the clear leader, thanks to his runaway try, was Dugan (256 metres). Shillington (173 metres) also did plenty of the hard yards in the middle. For the Sharks, Jason Bukuya (one error, seven missed-tackles) and John Williams (two errors, five missed tackles) also had days to forget.