Dragons did everything Sharks didn't: Flanagan
Straight-shooting Sharks coach Shane Flanagan assessed his team's atrocious 42-6 loss to the Dragons on Sunday by bluntly noting their opponents did everything his team didn't.
He wasn't wrong.
With his Sharks only scoring a contentious try, 350 fewer metres as well as conceding 11 penalties and making seven errors, Flanagan's men were simply blown off the park by their more-fancied opponents.
Falling to their seventh loss of the year, Cronulla will need to bounce back in a big way in Round 13 when they face the Roosters, who they beat back in Round 5 in what was their first victory of season 2015.
"I said before the game that the Dragons aren't where they're at for no reason. It's no fluke. They have been consistent since the start of the year and out there they were disciplined, controlled and everyone did their role within their team – they were all the things we didn't do," Flanagan said post-game.
"Particularly in the second half, the Dragons just stuck to their game-plan and kicked us into corners and waited for us to make mistakes. Off the back of our poor discipline, our tackle four, five penalties, not getting to kicks, kicking the ball dead off kick-offs, not kicking it 10 - there was a bit of everything wrong there from us.
"I don't know why it happened but give credit to the Dragons. We were poor. We couldn't get out of our half. We probably didn't fight hard enough and we certainly have some work to do."
While the possession rate remained relatively even despite the end result, Cronulla's chances were strictly limited in the second half while the Dragons run rampant.
"I just spoke to Michael [Ennis] before and he said he felt he was just defending that whole second half," Flanagan said.
"I've got a sore neck from looking down one end of the field the whole game - we just did not get over the 50."
While the Sharks are severely down on troops at the moment, Flanagan said they are expecting four of their regulars back on board to face the Roosters. Headlined by captain Paul Gallen's expected return from a glute tear, there are plenty of positives with their key players welcome inclusions.
"We get a few back next week, we get four back," Flanagan said. "We have [Sosaia] Feki, Ricky Leutele, Chris Heighington and hopefully the big boy [Gallen] is back."