Cronulla fans were bemoaning the lack of attacking football on display during the double header, but when Brett Kimmorley shot a perfect cut out pass onto the chest of Matt Rieck for the first try of Saturday?s game, it signalled a return to the Sharks of old. Unfortunately, a hangover from the Chris Anderson era remains ? ill discipline ultimately cost Cronulla the game. If Stuart Raper can iron the stupid penalties out of the team?s game, things will be looking very rosy down Sutherland way over the coming few weeks.
However, much improvement can be made and this is reflected in this week?s player rankings.
David Peachey- Took the pressure of Brett Kimmorley, playing a roving five eighths role in attack. With a few more weeks under his belt, he should be back to his attacking best. Unfortunately let the team down when he was sent for ten minutes ? needs to work on his discipline. Rank: C- Matthew Rieck- An excellent game from the often fumbling winger. Safe in every aspect of his play and showed great pace and footwork to avoid Luke Patten for Cronulla?s first try. Rank: B+ Paul Franze- Had little impact on the game. A few errors were costly and may need more time to get back into gear after his long stint on the sideline. Rank: C- Ryan McGoldrick- Another unspectacular game from McGoldrick, although he contained his opposing centre better than he did against the Tigers. Has plenty of potential, but needs to start showing it more, otherwise he may be a victim of the return of Nigel Vagana. Rank: C Nathan Merritt- Scored an early try but an injury kept him quiet for the rest of the game. Rank: C+
Greg Bird- Looking better each week. His interchangeable role in attack with Peachey will only strengthen in time. Also made a few kicks in the field of play, and while not wonderful, still showed that he?s another option if Kimmorley is under pressure. Rank: B- Brett Kimmorley- Almost back to his best. Laid on the pass that sent Matt Rieck flying down the sideline and constantly troubled the Dogs with his short and long kicking. A massive improvement on last week. Rank: A-
Jason Stevens- Another strong game, appears more interested than last year. Made a few impacting runs. Rank: B Dean Bosnich- A Bosnich special ? solid without being spectacular. Can only hold Michael Sullivan out of the hooking role for so long. Rank: C+ Danny Nutley- More ill-discipline from the master of giving away a penalty. On report for a lifting tackle as well. Rank: C- Andrew Lomu- Learnt how best to hold the ball during the week and showed massive improvement as a result. Absolutely devastated the Bulldogs defence on a number of occasions. May turn into the running back rower Cronulla have needed for so long. Rank: B+ Phil Bailey- Another fair effort by Bailey. Had little impact but was safe in defence and did enough work in attack. Rank: B- Matt Hilder- Completed a mountain of work and showed more skill than last week. Rank: B-
Chris Beattie- Still not showing enough mongrel. Was outshone by the other Cronulla forwards. Rank: C Keith Galloway- Didn?t have as much of an impact as last week, but still keeps showing his promise. Rank: C+ Sam Isemonger- Works hard, but looking out of his depth at this stage. I?m one of his biggest fans but it?s probably time to give another young forward a go. Rank: C- Michael Sullivan- Continues to impress, although wasn?t so dominant this week. Frontrunner for the off-season improvers? award. Rank: B
SHARKS DEN SURVIVOR
Despite not being the worst player out on the paddock, Ryan McGoldrick was booted this week ? possibly to ensure he paid for his woes in round one. McGoldrick received 31% of the votes this week, substantially beating out contenders Phil Bailey (15%) and David Peachey (13%).
It is interesting to note that the fans aren?t afraid to vote for a favourite player if they have a poor game. David Peachey had a notable average game on the weekend ? thanks mostly to a lack of discipline ? and the fans duly responded. That?s not to say other fans don?t hold grudges ? the much maligned Greg Bird continues to receive votes despite a solid start to season 2004. Interestingly, Brett Kimmorley ? once the villain down Cronulla way ? has barely made a ripple at the voting booth, perhaps proving once and for all that he is an accepted Cronulla club man.