We were our own worst enemy: Flanagan

It wasn't the way the Sharks wanted to start their premiership defence, but Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan says there's no need to panic after Thursday night's 26-18 season-opening loss to the Brisbane Broncos. 

Last year's premiers struggled to get into the contest having completed just 71 per cent of their sets, but the signs were there in the second half that they are still a force in the Telstra Premiership if they hold onto the ball. 

The Sharks got to within two points with 20 minutes to go, but an unfortunate penalty late in the contest provided a platform for the Broncos to march downfield, with five-eighth Anthony Milford icing the game with a solo try from the ensuing set. 

"You can't win football games when you're turning over the ball and giving penalties away. It was 10-5 in errors conceding possession and 10-5 in penalties so we just gave them too much football," Flanagan said after the game. 

"I thought we were coming to get them at one stage until the Milford try. A couple of things didn't go [our way]. We defended well and then they kicked the ball into Gal (Paul Gallen) and it ricocheted into Birdy's (Jack Bird) hands…things like that didn't land for us. 

"In the first five minutes of the second half, we didn't catch a kick and then we defended our try line. We were our own worst enemies. It's disappointing for the standards we set ourselves, so we're really disappointed."

 

Sharks skipper Paul Gallen shared his coach's frustrations. 

"We had 40 per cent possession and completed at 66 per cent," he said. 

"It's pretty simple really; we want 50 per cent of the ball. We feel that if we get 50 per cent of the ball and complete at a high completion then we'll be right in the game. We were nowhere near it tonight."

Thursday's loss was the fourth year in a row the Sharks had tasted defeat in Round 1, but Flanagan isn't pushing the panic button after watching his side bounce back from a slow start in 2016 to win the club's maiden premiership. 

"We're not the best starters and we've been in this position before. It's Round 1, and if we fix those things up then we can win football games," he said. 

"There's not a miracle I need to wave over this footy team. You look at the grand final – I don't want to look too far back – but we made three errors in the whole game and completed above 90 per cent. That's how you win footy games."