The Sharks clicked into gear in their return to Pointsbet Stadium with a 30-6 win over a new-look Bulldogs side that has yet to form their new combinations.
Braydon Trindall opened the scoring after a poor Jayden Okunbor offload but star recruit Matt Burton levelled up with an excellent run through the Sharks' right-side defence.
Nicho Hynes produced a nice pass for Briton Nikora's angled run to the line in the 22nd minute before Royce Hunt cashed in on a Tevita Pangai jnr penalty and sin bin to crash his way over in the 31st.
Will Kennedy made it 24-0 at the break cleaning up after Ronaldo Mulitalo tapped back a Trindall bomb.
Mulitalo scored one of his own while playing left centre in the 53rd minute in what proved to be the final points of the contest.
Match: Sharks v Bulldogs
Round 2 -
Venue: PointsBet Stadium, Sydney
Things look to be humming pretty well for the Sharks heading into round one following a comfortable win over the Bulldogs, while Trent Barrett's new-look line-up still has a few things to work on.
- Bulldogs recruit Matt Burton's first hit-out for his new club was one of the real bright spots out of the match for Barrett. The Panthers premiership-winner's long boot was on display, as was his potent running game as he sliced through for his side's opening try in what was an encouraging 70-minute spell.
- Burton's fellow former Panther Brent Naden was also strong for the blue-and-whites with a long range intercept run the highlight of a strong stint.
- Nicho Hynes continues to impress; the 2021 breakout star's shift both from Melbourne to the Shire and from fullback to the halves goes from strength to strength with his ball-playing top-notch and goal-kicking also on song in his 55 minutes on field.
- Tevita Pangai jnr found himself on report twice. The first was for dangerous contact on winger Sione Katoa after the latter was already on the ground. The second was for ripping the jersey off Sharks prop Royce Hunt, with a few attempted jabs not quite connecting. The incident sparked other players to run in and landed Pangai in the sin bin for 10 minutes.
Pangai Junior off to the sin bin
- Braden Hamlin-Uele was also placed on report twice; once for a possible cannonball tackle and the second for a late hit on Jake Averillo.
- Sharks skipper Wade Graham played only a few minutes of the contest - his first football since a head knock in round 14 last year - before being forced off by an ankle injury.
- Ronaldo Mulitalo scored an impressive try while playing at centre to allow former Rooster Matt Iluvalu some time on the wing in a possible hint to how he may be used this year.
- There was no shortage of effort from star Bulldogs recruit Josh Addo-Carr but his team struggled to get him into open space in what was a quiet first outing for his new club.
- The Bulldogs' attack was haphazard, with Averillo and Burton given almost the entire game to click in the halves and Kyle Flanagan running on for the final 10 minutes when Burton was rested.
Play of the Game
With the Sharks up 18-6 three minutes before halftime, Braydon Trindall launched a huge bomb that Mulitalo out-jumped Okunbor for, with Will Kennedy showing great awareness and strength to first clean up the scraps then run over the top of Matt Dufty to score for an 18-point buffer at the break.
Kennedy benefits from Mulitalo tap on
What they said
"We spoke all pre-season about building our game on defence and we defended really well tonight. For me transitioning from fullback to halfback, I've got to work extremely hard. I haven't played halfback at NRL level now and if I want to be a leader in this team I have to lead by example with my actions." - Sharks halfback Nicho Hynes.
"I thought we shot ourselves in the foot there. We hung in there for the first 20 but let ourselves down the rest of the game. Definitely a lot to improve on for round one. We need to work on our defence, that wins games and tonight wasn't good enough." - Bulldogs five-eighth Matt Burton.
The Sharks face a tricky road trip to Canberra to start their 2022 campaign on the Friday twilight clash on March 11, with hopes skipper Wade Graham's ankle injury isn't too bad. Matt Moylan is likely to replace the suspended Braydon Trindall in the halves but Cam McInnes is a couple of weeks away still.
The Bulldogs travel all the way to Townsville for the final match of round one to face a side that showed plenty of spark in the trials, and with some work needed on both their attack and defence.