Cronulla have recorded back-to-back wins for the first time under Craig Fitzgibbon with a dominant 36-12 win over the Dragons in a slippery local derby at WIN Stadium on Thursday night.
The Sharks crossed for three tries in the first half to set up an 18-0 lead before the Dragons struck back early in the second half to ensure the game remained alive momentarily.
However, the Sharks quickly responded to the Dragons' short resurgence and it was all one-way traffic from there with the visitors piling on three more converted tries to cruise to a comfortable victory.
Su'A sent to the sin bin for high contact
It was a disappointing night for the Dragons, who started well but conceded 10 points when Jaydn Su'A was sent to the sin bin for a second consecutive week.
The Red V never recovered as the Sharks went on to dominate in enemy territory with Nicho Hynes, Matt Ikuvalu and Siosifa Talakai among the stars of the show.
Match: Dragons v Sharks
Round 3 -
Venue: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
- Cronulla scored three unanswered tries in the first half through Sione Katoa, Matt Ikuvalu and Siosifa Talakai to lead 18-0 at the break.
- The Sharks' 36 points was their highest ever scored against the Dragons in Wollongong.
- Dragons back-rower Jaydn Su'A was placed on report and sent to the sin bin in the 16th minute for a high shot on Sharks forward Dale Finucane.
- The Sharks scored 10 points when Su'A was off the field, adding to the 14 the Dragons conceded last week against the Panthers.
- Dragons back-rower Tariq Sims was placed on report in the 21st minute for a dangerous tackle.
- Sharks centre Connor Tracey left the field in the 60th minute with a groin injury and will undergo scans.
- Sharks centre Jesse Ramien was placed on report in the 72nd minute and sent to the sin bin for a high tackle on Dragons forward Jack Gosiewski.
- Dragons outside backs Tyrell Sloan (64 metres) and Cody Ramsey (28 metres) switched positions late in the contest after quiet games.
- It was an unhappy night for Anthony Griffin, who notched his 200th NRL game as coach.
Play of the Game
Just as the Dragons looked to get into the game during the second half, the Sharks responded in style to keep the ball alive through seven sets of hands on the last tackle before Siosifa Talakai produced a kick for Andrew Fifita which ended in Jesse Ramien crossing for the side's fourth of the evening.
Ramien finishes a terrific team try
What they said
"I thought the Dragons were really physical and got stuck into us, it wasn't easy out there. When we got field position we executed quite well, we had the knack of making the most of our opportunities tonight. There's an element of risk involved in that but you've still got to back the guys to play what they see. You've got to earn the right to do that [in the conditions] and the guys in the middle allowed that." - Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon.
Fitzgibbon gives lots of reasons to win
"You've got to give Cronulla some credit, they were outstanding particularly their defensive effort. Their transition, kick chase and kick return, they were a lot better than us. We're a lot better than that, we were poor tonight. We'll have a look at it, maybe we spent a lot of juice last week. We gave away three penalties in the first 30 minutes for high tackles and invited people down our end. We've got to be smarter than that." - Dragons coach Anthony Griffin.
Griffin talks about the Sloan switch
"We didn't play to the conditions as well as they did. They got that try [in the second half] and it sort of crushed us, it put the nail in a few blokes' coffins and set us back a bit. At the backend of the second half it felt like that." - Dragons captain Ben Hunt.
Cronulla will return to PointsBet Stadium next Friday to host the Knights at 6pm in the first of three home games for Craig Fitzgibbon's side in the next month.
Fitzgibbon will hope Ronaldo Mulitalo is available after he missed Thursday night's clash with a concussion.
The Dragons will enjoy a 10-day turnaround ahead of their round four clash against Parramatta at CommBank Stadium on April 3.