Sharks v Rabbitohs: Five key points

Sharks v Rabbitohs: Five key points

Maloney takes control, Sam Burgess suffers a suspected rib injury, Segeyaro shows his hand and the unheralded heroes of the Sharks' convincing victory.

Refreshed Maloney brings edge to Sharks

He started the Sharks' dominance by laying on a try for Wade Graham in the opening five minutes of the game and when the Rabbitohs threatened to steal an upset late it was James Maloney who came up with the crucial play to seal the two competition points.

On the back of a seven-tackle set due to Braidon Burns' spilling an opportunity in the Sharks' in goal Maloney rifled a grubber kick through the legs of the South Sydney defenders, a slight ricochet of Tyrell Fuimaono and then a bounce into the upright causing enough chaos for Gerard Beale to cross with 10 minutes to play and build that handy buffer.

Rested from last week's loss to the Titans Maloney brings an intangible edge to the Sharks attack and finished off a strong return with a clever kick for Ricky Leutele's try two minutes from full-time.

Burgess injury heaps further misery on Rabbitohs

They have been forced to play almost the entire season without superstar Greg Inglis and South Sydney are now facing being without their inspirational forward leader Sam Burgess after he left the field with seven minutes left clutching at his ribs.

After a somewhat shaky opening with a couple of handling errors Burgess was soon back to his Herculean self as he tried to lift his team in the second half but when he was caught in a tackle by Matt Prior, James Segeyaro and Andrew Fifita and crashed to the ground he immediately grabbed at his ribs.

Looking in extreme discomfort Burgess left the field immediately and his enormous presence will be missed if he spends any time on the sidelines.


Segeyaro shows his hand

For a long time it looked as though James Segeyaro wouldn't play at all for the Sharks in 2017 but after coming back from a broken arm last week against the Titans and with Jayden Brailey out indefinitely with a broken jaw, he could be the spark that adds a new dimension to Cronulla's premiership defence.

Introduced in the 27th minute Segeyaro produced a typically energetic first carry followed by an offload and looked dangerous each time he probed around the ruck.

He came up with a couple of important cover defending tackles when the Rabbitohs threatened to start making some inroads and even though a pass to Andrew Fifita close to the line went to ground it should serve as a warning shot to other finals-bound teams that he will have a big say in how far the Sharks go this season.

Sharks' back five the unheralded heroes

Their captain racked up the carries and the metres in customary fashion but it was the collective effort of the Sharks' outside men that allowed them to dominate territory and get their team out of trouble time and again.

Led by fullback Valentine Holmes with 172m, Gerard Beale (123), Ricky Leutele (150) and Sosaia Feki (112) all ran for more than 100 metres, their combined 614 run metres dwarfing that of their Rabbitohs' opposites who could only manage 316 metres in response.

So much of the game was played in South Sydney's half and the outside men were the ones largely responsible for Cronulla's territorial dominance.

Cook breathes life into Souths' attack

His omission last week was one of the great head-scratchers of the season and when Damien Cook came into the contest in the second half the South Sydney attack immediately came to life.

His ability to jump put of dummy half put his team on the front foot and with each quick play-the-ball they could earn the greater the influence Cook could have.

He was guilty of an ill-timed offload in desperation late in a tackle count that handed over possession but his pure speed put doubt into a Sharks' defensive line that had looked resolute for the first 40 minutes.

A second offload from the set after points again gave the ball back to Cronulla and put his team under pressure but there's no doubt the Rabbitohs are a more dangerous attacking outfit with the nippy rake on the park.