Lewis return boosts Sharks' hopes
In a game where the Sharks were handed a fourth consecutive defeat in Melbourne, there was at least one positive to come out of Saturday night.
To see Luke Lewis return to the field would have been a sight for sore Cronulla eyes. The 31-year-old played his first game of the season, coming off the bench and recording six runs and 46 metres.
It was his first game of competitive football since undergoing minor surgery on his troublesome left knee in February.
Lewis first hurt his knee back in round nine last season while completing a wrestling drill at training but battled through the pain to play just eight games in 2014.
It has been a frustrating two years for the NSW and Kangaroos back rower since making the move from Penrith at the end of 2012.
Throw in a shoulder reconstruction after the 2013 World Cup for good measure and Lewis has had a tough time of it, playing just 28 games in his first two years in the Shire.
The veteran was grateful to finally be in the thick of it again on the weekend but admits it is one step in a long road back.
"The knee is a little bit sore, but just getting through it and blowing out the cobwebs was good," Lewis told NRL.com
"It's always a little bit hard because you've got to learn the game again, it's gotten a lot faster."
The Sharks have not won a game since the July 26, 2014 when they defeated Penrith in Round 20.
It is a nightmare run of nine consecutive NRL defeats but Lewis is hopeful that once the revamped squad can click the results will start to flow, despite Saturday night's heavy defeat.
"We knew what Melbourne we're going to do but it was just disappointing and we've just got to get back to the drawing board on Monday," Lewis said.
"We'll be right, we just need to find that little bit of confidence we've been looking for and when we get it I think we will be okay."
Cronulla will host Gold Coast next Saturday at Remondis Stadium, desperate to break a run of nine consecutive defeats at home dating back to late-April of last year.
The importance of next week's game is one that is certainly not lost on coach Shane Flanagan.
"Tell me about it, it's becoming crucial now that we've got to go home and we've got to win," he said post-match.
"There is no beating around the bush about it anymore."