Wade Graham believes his 'Hand of God' moment could kick-start Cronulla's premiership campaign after the Sharks snatched a late 18-12 win against St George Illawarra at Pointsbet Stadium.
Graham, whose left edge combination with Bronson Xerri is proving lethal for the Sharks, admitted after the match that a try by the teenage centre in the 76th minute should have been disallowed.
The NSW Origin forward said the ball had glanced his hand after the Dragons had allowed a Shaun Johnson kick to bounce before Xerri caught it and raced over to score.
“I was waiting to see what the ref would call, I only just glanced it,” Graham said. “During the run of play I thought Bronson was behind me so it could have been knocked back anyway.
“It all happened quick, it was hard to tell on the replay and he had sent it up as a try so a bit of luck went our way. We needed it.”
Graham described the incident as a 'Hand of God', the name given to Diego Maradona’s infamous goal for Argentina in the 1986 FIFA World Cup quarter-final against England.
The Sharks created far more try-scoring opportunities than the Dragons but decision-making let them down, with Graham bursting into the clear midway through the first half only to be tackled after opting not to pass outside to Xerri.
“I couldn’t see because the sun was in my eyes,” he said. “We scored on the end of that set so we got away with it but I am a pretty hard marker on myself and I like to ice those opportunities. It was pretty much the story of our night.”
However, the fact the Sharks had refused to let their finals hopes slip and displayed the grit Cronulla teams of recent seasons are renowned for to snatch the win gives Graham confidence for the weeks ahead.
After leapfrogging Penrith into eighth position on for-and-against, the Sharks control their own destiny and have two more home matches against the Warriors and Raiders before playing Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval in Round 25.
“The positives are that we got the two points and it is not like we didn’t create your opportunities,” Graham said. “Although we didn’t play well I think at the back end of the game the team certainly felt what it is like to be in a tight game at Shark Park and it had that feeling. We got it done in the end.
“In the first half we created so many opportunities and couldn’t ice it, then that builds internal pressure and you start to try and force it. That’s what leads to errors and that is where the game spirals out of control.
“Credit to the Dragons, they hung in there and they kept fighting and turning up. It was a local derby and there is always a chance something like that was going to happen today.”