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Valentine Holmes made his return for the Sharks against the Dragons in Round 3.

Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has hit back at suggestions his side is suffering from a post-premiership hangover following Cronulla's 16-10 defeat at home to local rivals the St George Illawarra Dragons.

‌After going 11-1 at home in 2016, the Sharks have started the season with consecutive defeats at Southern Cross Group Stadium raising doubts over their ability to go back-to-back. 

Instead of hitting the panic button, Flanagan pointed to last week's thumping win in Canberra to remind the rest of the competition just how good his side can be. 

"Notice how we played last week?" Flanagan asked the media after the game. 

"Canberra won today and they're a fair footy team. The way we played last week, the majority of the first half was a contest, and in the second half we blew one of the better teams of the competition away so we like where we're at. 

"We just need to prove we're not a spent force."

With one win and two losses to start the season, the Sharks find themselves in the same position they were after three rounds in 2016, with Cronulla even boasting the same points differential (+12).  

And while we all know how last year ended up for the Sharks, Flanagan knows his side has a lot to improve on if they want to keep their hopes of going back-to-back alive. 

Flanagan likened Sunday's loss to his side's 22-12 loss against the Sea Eagles in the corresponding round last season which sparked Cronulla's 16-game unbeaten run. 

"It's our worst performance since Round 3 last year when we played Manly over at Brookvale," he said. 

"We had our momentum and then we gave a couple of penalties away at the end of our sets. We got to our kick and then gave a penalty away and marched them back up the field a couple of times. We were coming home to get them but we spent too much [energy] in the first half.

"We were our own worst enemy. We kicked poorly, we kicked out on the full, missed too many tackles, and as I said, it was our worst performance in 12 months."

Sharks skipper Paul Gallen said his side had all the momentum after scoring a couple of tries in quick succession midway through the second half, only to let themselves down with errors and relieving penalties.  

"I felt on the field that we were really coming home, but every time we had them on the rack we let them off by giving away penalties with the ball, fifth-tackle penalties and kicking dead," Gallen said. 

"We just let them off the hook. There were times out there when we would give away a penalty where they'd drop to their haunches. I thought we had them, but we just let them off the hook."


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