Sharks hammer Dragons in derby
The Cronulla Sharks have joined a host of teams on 20 competition points with a dominant 28-8 point win over the St George Illawarra Dragons.
The Sharks are now just outside of the top eight, with the Bulldogs in eighth position above them by just 11 for-and-against points.
The Dragons, who are also on 20 competition points, have now failed to win an NRL match since they demolished the Sharks back in Round 12, losing five straight.
Injuries to stars Benji Marshall and Josh Dugan, as well as the suspension of damaging back-rower Trent Merrin meant the Dragons never really looked like winning on Sunday afternoon.
Sosaia Feki went over after just four minutes to open the scoring, somehow finding a way to score despite the attention of three Dragons defenders out wide.
The Sharks dominated the ensuing 20 minutes of football, with the Dragons clearly struggling without a big contingent of injured stars, and would be next on the scoreboard in the 24th minute.
The top try-scoring forward in the NRL, Luke Lewis, crossed this time. Running a perfect line to dive over one off the ruck with Dragons five-eighth Gareth Widdop caught ball watching.
In his 250th game, Lewis' try was the 103rd for his career and his ninth this season.
The skillful second-rower would turn provider just a few minutes later as a brilliant Sharks set of six ended with him finding Valentine Holmes in space down the Sharks' right side.
Michael Gordon's sideline conversion made it 16-0 to Cronulla.
An amazing Widdop pass finally had the Dragons on the board right on the stroke of half-time.
With the Sharks rushing the St George Illawarra left-side attack, Widdop caught the ball and in one motion picked out Charly Runciman on the left edge with a superb cut out ball.
The Dragons fought themselves back into the match to start the second half, on multiple occasions they were pulled up centimetres from the line or held up.
The closest they got was when Ben Creah broke the line from 10 metres out and looked certain to score, however Ben Barba on the try-line had other ideas, picking up the much bigger man and slamming him on his back.
In the end, the Dragons failed to get the reward for their improved possession and field position to begin the half, Andrew Fifita's try with 12 minutes remaining quashed any hope of a late comeback.
Off the next set Barba scored a deserved try down the Sharks left side after a late offload from Feki, to blow the score out to 28-4.
Impressive youngster Runciman had his second for the Dragons late in the piece, as he crossed with six minutes remaining, after putting a nice step on Barba, to add some respectability to the score for the Dragons.
Cronulla Sharks 28 (Sosaia Feki, Luke Lewis, Valentine Holmes, Andrew Fifita, Ben Barba tries; Michael Gordon 2, Valentine Holmes 2 goals) def. St George Illawarra Dragons 8 (Charly Runciman 2 tries) at Remondis Stadium. Crowd: 12,792.