Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 2017 Season Review

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Down, down Cronulla as the boys from Woolooware fail to defend their title.

The Sharks came into the 2017 season for the first time in their history as the defending premiers and seemed keen and capable of staging a genuine crack at back to back titles, due to the minimal changes to their roster, and with the added confidence of having broken their Premiership drought.

The reality was far different - all year their attack misfired and never really clicked, as they fell back into the 'Sharks of old', just grinding out narrow wins.

While they finished fifth and were still highly regarded as premiership contenders, they were eliminated by the Cowboys in week one in a game they were expected to win comfortably.

Turning point

In the penultimate round of the season, the Sharks were in fourth place, facing the third placed Roosters, who they'd flogged 44-12 in Round 17. A win would've seen them jump the Tricolours on the ladder, but they stumbled to a 16-14 loss. If they had've won that match, they would've remained in the top 4 and got a second chance in the finals.

It wasn't to be - the loss dropped them to fifth and they lost their sudden death opening finals match to the Cowboys, ending their season.

What worked

Only one side had a better defensive record in 2017 than the Sharks and that was the eventual Premiers Melbourne. Despite having one of the oldest and most experienced forward packs in the games history, they still proved to be a formidable defensive unit.

What didn't work

After Maloney helped to bring Premiership glory to the Sharks in 2016, his form at the back end of 2017 was a long way from his best. Last year the club had Michael Ennis and Ben Barba to fall back on to support the halves, but this year rookie rake Jayden Brailey and Valentine Holmes struggled to replace those players, despite having good years themselves. Holmes is a genuine ball runner and still has to develop his ball playing game while Brailey is still finding his feet in the side. Ultimately, the black, white and blue attack didn't click in 2017.

Best Players

Matt Prior had another stunning season and looks to be getting better every year. Paul Gallen had much more impact this year thanks to playing less minutes and being available every week, having retired from rep footy after the 2016 Origin series.

Valentine Holmes showed he is a very reliable and capable fullback who just needs to work on his ball playing ability to become close to the best custodian in the world. Jayden Brailey had a very good debut season, especially in the back half of the year. Wade Graham was very strong again and his defence continues to improve to the point that he is a genuine hard hitter now.

Lower Grades

The Sharks NYC side finished the season as Minor Premiers, a whopping 7 premiership points clear of the second placed Panthers. However it meant little as the Cronulla Under 20's bowed out of the finals in straight sets, losing 35-22 to Parramatta in the first week and then thumped 42-22 by Manly the following week.

In the Intrust Super Premiership, the Sharks feeder team Newtown had a season to forget as they ran second last.

Looking Ahead

The Sharks have had a bit of a shake up for next year, with the major losses of Jack Bird, Gerard Beale, Jeremy Latimore and Chris Heighington along with fringe players Fa'amanu Brown, Daniel Mortimer and Manaia Cherrington. They've bought well though, bringing in Josh Dugan, Aaron Gray and Ava Seumanufagai.

Their depth may be a little tested next year, especially in the forwards if veterans Luke Lewis or Paul Gallen get injured. They'll be seen as a genuine top 6 side again in 2018, but without having rectified the loss of playmaking spine members Ennis and Barba, they could well have a similar run to 2017 next year.

2017 Results

1
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 18
Brisbane Broncos 26
L
2
Canberra Raiders 16
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 42
W
3
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 10
St George Illawarra Dragons 16
L
4
Parramatta Eels 6
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 20
W
5
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 19
Newcastle Knights 18
W
6
Melbourne Storm 2
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 11
W
7
Penrith Panthers 2
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 28
W
8
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 12
Gold Coast Titans 16
L
9
Wests Tigers 16
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 22
W
10
St George Illawarra Dragons 14
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 18
W
11
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 18
North Queensland Cowboys 14
W
12
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 9
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 8
W
13
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 0
BYE
14
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 13
Melbourne Storm 18
L
15
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 24
Wests Tigers 22
W
16
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 18
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 35
L
17
Sydney Roosters 12
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 44
W
18
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 0
BYE
19
Gold Coast Titans 30
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 10
L
20
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 26
South Sydney Rabbitohs 12
W
21
Warriors 12
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 26
W
22
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 12
Canberra Raiders 30
L
23
Brisbane Broncos 32
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 10
L
24
North Queensland Cowboys 16
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 26
W
25
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 14
Sydney Roosters 16
L
26
Newcastle Knights 18
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 26
W
Finals Week 1
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 14
North Queensland Cowboys 15
L

By the Stats

34
Competition Points
15
Matches Won
0
Matches Drawn
9
Matches Lost
476
Points Scored
407
Points Conceded
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