Sharks spine feels settled: Townsend
It may have taken seven rounds but the key players in Cronulla's all-important spine are finally showing some promising signs.
With Matt Moylan back at five-eighth the Sharks turned in one of their better attacking performances of the year with a 26-22 home win over the Penrith Panthers on Sunday.
Halfback Chad Townsend has had to regularly adjust to various alterations to the spine, playing alongside both Moylan and Trent Hodkinson in the halves and Moylan, Josh Dugan and Valentine Holmes at fullback.
Townsend believes the Sharks are finally feeling comfortable with the new-look combinations. He hopes that they build on Sunday's performance and use it as a springboard for the remainder of the season.
''There has been a few changes and things like that,'' Townsend said.
''We don't want to use that as an excuse but on the weekend we felt really comfortable. We were able to score 26 points which was enough to get us the win.
''Moving forward, if we can now build on that combination and get some solidarity there, hopefully we can string some performances together.''
Moylan showed plenty of attacking flair against the Panthers, earning high praise from Sharks hooker Jayden Brailey.
Brailey said the former Panther's playmaker's leadership and positive attitude on and off the field shone through in his impressive performance.
''I thought he [Moylan] was outstanding,'' Brailey said.
''Everyone around him knew what they were doing and he took a big job in leading us around the park, so I think he's going to keep kicking on from here and have a good season.
''I think he plays his best footy when he's confident and happy. He seemed really relaxed through the week and I think that was the difference.
''We had a pretty good attitude all week. He led that for our team and we were just very positive.''
Despite the pressure of not having their senior players in Paul Gallen and Wade Graham and losing Luke Lewis is the 13th minute, Townsend said it was the Sharks' camaraderie that drove their success.
''Our backs were against the wall during the week,'' the 27-year-old said.
''To lose some of our senior players and some of our leaders in our forward pack, and then to have guys come in and really stand up and play well and to get a win at home was definitely something we needed.
''We really wanted to lift our energy and make sure we were feeding off positive vibes, and we were showing plenty of encouragement. It was just about keeping it simple and playing for each other."