Ben Barba's game-changing play

With Michael Gordon going off for a concussion test at the start of the second half of Cronulla's big win over the Dragons on Sunday afternoon, Ben Barba got an opportunity earlier than usual to make his mark on a game.

 

But none would have thought that mark was going to be made with a massive try-saving tackle.

Known for his flashes of brilliance with the ball in hand, Barba had a near impossible task of stopping Ben Creagh from scoring early in the second half of Cronulla's victory over local rivals the Dragons.

Not only did he stop the much bigger man running at full pace, the 90 kilogram Barba nailed him, picking him up and driving him into the ground with what seemed to be a copybook tackle, despite a penalty being awarded to the Dragons.

"It was a great try-saving tackle," Sharks skipper Paul Gallen said.

"It was a cracker, it was unbelievable. 

"A 105-110 kilo front rower and all he had to do was fall over and Benny stopped him. 

"It was a real game-changer, it was unreal." 

"It was an important moment as it would have gone to 16-10."

 

Sharks coach Shane Flanagan also sung the praises of his utility player, who struggled early this season to settle into a position in the starting team.

"I think it was a real important moment," Flanagan said. 

"Players like Benny come up with those type of things. 

"He's a dangerous footballer. Today he had an opportunity, Michael Gordon had to go to [be tested for a] concussion and there was an opportunity for me to get him on there. 

"Michael was fine to come back but at that stage when he came back we had a 20 point lead so it was a good opportunity for Benny to stay out there. 

"He's where he wants to be at the moment he's playing good football and he's confident.

"The more time he gets on the field the better he will be but it is a challenge at the moment because I've got players in similar positions that are playing really good footy.

"That's a good thing for me to have, I'm not shying away from it, it's not a problem."

Meanwhile Dragons skipper, and the recipient of Barba's big tackle, Ben Creagh, shed a different perspective of the game-changing hit, revealing it was the product of more than just Barba's good work.

"It was a really good tackle," Creagh said. 

"Unfortunately back on the inside one of the Sharks boys called my name and I thought it was one of our guys. 

"I looked back on the inside to throw the ball and as soon as I turned around he was there tackling me."

Barba also scored a try in a strong all-round display for the men from the Shire.