Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 15 v Manly Sea Eagles 12
at Toyota Park
Referees: Sean Hampstead
The Cronulla Sharks have entered the NRL Top 4 for the first time in 2006 after putting Manly away 15-12 in match definitely not for the purists.
At a cold and windy Toyota Park, the Sea Eagles opened the scoring via Steve Menzies, after he was denied by a Brett Stewart forward pass in the previous set of six. A penalty conversion seen them go up 8-0 after 30 minutes until Greg Bird crossed for his first try to take the teams into halftime, Manly ahead by 8 points to 6.
In the second half the Sharks were aided by a stiff breeze at their backs and countless repeat sets of six which they were unable to take full advantage of, despite levelling the scores through a Covell penalty from in front.
Bird then scored his second try of the match from a pinpoint Kimmorley grubber kick and Cronulla seemed comfortable, leading by 6 with less than 10 minutes to go. Kimmorley then made sure of the result by potting a field goal in the dying minutes, still Manly refused to concede as Stewart scored an unconverted try in the last seconds of the game.
As far as injuries go, the Sharks lost Phil Bailey early in the match to a suspected broken cheekbone. For Manly Luke Williamson shouldn't remember too much about his 8 minutes spent on the field after he was knocked out cold whilst tackling Sharks prop James Stosic. Five-eighth Travis Burns also left the field of play late in the match with an injury not known at this time.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks: 15
Tries: Greg Bird(2)
Goals: Luke Covell 3/3
Field Goals: Brett Kimmorley
Manly Sea Eagles: 12
Tries: Steve Menzies, Brett Stewart
Goals: Travis Burns 2/2
Halftime: Sea Eagles 8-6
By the Clock:
Round 15 action comes from a cold Toyota Park as the Sharks take on the Manly Sea Eagles.
Steve Bell is out of action, suffering a facial injury after a headclash with Steve Menzies in Origin II. Menzies will take his position in the centres, Luke Williamson will start in the second row, George Rose comes into the side and will start from the interchange bench.
Cronulla line up as per program.
1 min: NEWS Covell kicks off and it's game on
6 min: NEWS An awful set of six by Manly sees them fail to get a decent kick away despite having 2 attempts. Sharks are on the attack now.
8 min: NEWS Luke Williamson has been flattened after an attempted tackle on James Stosic.
The Medicab comes out onto the field but Williamson rises to his feet and walks off unassisted.
9 min: NEWS Albert flies high to catch a Kimmorley bomb, but knocks on in attempting to ground the ball - NO TRY - 20 metre restart to Manly.
15 min: NEWS 15 minutes gone and nobody has been able to cross the stripe as yet. Kimmorley and Orford are going set for set in trying to break the line and set up the opening score for the night.
16 min: NEWS Video Ref is called upon to check a possible Manly try but the resulting call is NO TRY - 20 metre restart to the Sharks.
18 min: NEWS Menzies scores in the corner but the play is called back for a forward pass by Stewart.
19 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles
This time Steve Menzies won't be denied as the Sea Eagles put on pretty much the same play that got called back for a forward pass a set earlier. Burns converts.
Sea Eagles 6-0
24 min: PENALTY GOAL Manly Sea Eagles
Burns knocks over a penalty shot after a Sharks infringement in the play-the-ball.
Sea Eagles 8-0
27 min: NEWS Luke Covell takes a Kimmorley bomb but knocks on to send the play back to the 20 metre line. Sharks have had their chances but have been unable to convert anything into points thus far.
29 min: INJURY News comes through that Phil Bailey will not play again tonight after suffering a suspected broken cheekbone. Sharks are down to 16 for the remainder of the match.
30 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Bird crosses out wide for the Sharks, giving them their first points 10 minutes out from halftime. Covell nails the conversion.
Sea Eagles 8-6
35 min: NEWS Momentum has swung in favour of the Sharks in these last minutes before the break, they get a penalty and start on another attacking raid on the Sea Eagles line.
38 min: NEWS Orford attempts a field goal but the ball takes a right turn off the boot and is waved away.
HALFTIME. We go to oranges with Manly just shading the Sharks 8 points to 6.
PENALTIES - Sharks 6-2
COMPLETIONS - Sharks 16/24 Manly 14/20
ERRORS - Sharks 9 Manly 6
41 min: NEWS Players are back out there, Burns kicks off and the second half is underway.
43 min: NEWS Sharks get a repeat set early after the restart and go straight on the attack, but drop the ball cold at the play-the-ball.
51 min: NEWS The Sharks waste a chance at points after earning another repeat set.
55 min: NEWS The Sharks butcher another chance after a great try saving tackle on Vagana by Dunley.
60 min: NEWS Great tryline defence sees Manly deny the Sharks again after yet another repeat set.
61 min: PENALTY GOAL Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Covell slots an easy penalty conversion to tie the match up at 8 all. The Sharks are enjoying great field position but they are failing to convert pressure into points, something which may come back to haunt them in the remaining 19 minutes.
64 min: NEWS Darren Albert goes down clutching at his throat after bringing down a runaway Menzies. He is ok though and play continues with the Sharks working the ball out from their own line.
68 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Bird crosses for his second try after a pin-point grubber from Kimmorley. Pressure has finally paid off for Cronulla as Covell converts and the Sharks lead for the first time in the match.
73 min: NEWS Manly almost go over in the corner but end up in touch.
77 min: FIELD GOAL Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Kimmorley nails a sweetly hit field goal and the 2 points look like staying in the Shire.
78 min: TRY Manly Sea Eagles
Stewart crosses out wide to set up a nail biter. Hicks misses the conversion.
FULLTIME - In a dour struggle the Sharks have come out on top 15 points to 12, and as a result they will spend the night at equal second on the NRL points table. Manly will be disappointed at the outcome considering they led the match 8-0 after half an hour.
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Greg Bird
2 - Brett Kimmorley
1 - Paul Gallen