The Cronulla Sutherland Sharks have guaranteed themselves a place in the top eight with a gritty 20-7 victory over the South Sydney Rabbitohs in front of 16,423 fans at Toyota Park.
In a match where both sides struggled with some early jitters, the Sharks came home strong to claim a much needed win.
A mistake from Dave Taylor on the back of the kick off gifted the home side an early opportunity, however the Sharks got off to an equally shakey start after Todd Carney failed to take control of a loose pass from Jeff Robson.
The poor ball handling continued, with neither side managing to complete a set in the first five minutes before butchering several early attacking opportunities as the match progressed.
The Sharks finally took adavatage of some good field position in the 20th minute when Robson put Andrew Fifita into a gap close to the line. Carney converted from right in front to give the Sharks a six-point-lead.
Both sides appeared far stronger in defence than attack in the back end of the half leaving the score unchanged heading into the break.
The second half began, much like the end of the first half, with both teams looking far from finals' ready. But there was no stopping Sam Burgess as he muscled his way over the try line in the 54th minute on the back of a penalty. Adam Reynolds added the extras to level the scores.
With neither side looking like breaking the dead lock in the 66th minute Reynolds chanced his and with a field goal attempt 40 metres out and after sending it upstairs, Tony Archer awarded the one-pointer.
Desperate not to send a vocal crowd home disappointed the Sharks hit back with a try only three minutes later after Carney put Dragons-bound Tyson Frizell into a gap. Carney converted to put the Sharks five-points in front.
The Sharks were on the attack again minutes later and extended their lead with a penalty goal before Issac DeGois produced a great run from dummy half to get over halfway before putting through a kick which found a flying John Williams who scored on full-time. Carney added the extras to extend the Sharks' lead to 13-points.
Tonight's victory will give the Sharks' a much needed confidence boost ahead of next round when they travel to Melbourne to take on the second-placed Storm. The Sharks have struggled to find form since Origin.
As for the Rabbits, before tonight they had not lost two in a row since round 2. They host the last-placed Parramatta Eels next weekend.
Photo Credit: Chris (@Vossy7)
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 20 defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 7
National Rugby League - Round 24 - Saturday August 18, 2012 7:30pm
Venue: Toyota Stadium
Referee: Tony Archer and Brett Suttor
Video Referee: Russell Smith
Touch Judges: Russell Turner and Adam Reid
Halftime: Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 6 South Sydney Rabbitohs 0
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks (20)
Tries: John Williams, Andrew Fifita, Tyson Frizell
Field Goals: Todd Carney (0/1)
Conversions: Todd Carney (3/3)
Penalty Goals: Todd Carney (1/2)
South Sydney Rabbitohs (7)
Tries: Sam Burgess
Field Goals: Adam Reynolds (1/1)
Conversions: Adam Reynolds (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Good evening NRL fans and welcome to Toyota Park where the Cronulla Sharks take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
We have crisp conditions at Cronulla this evening where the Sharks will be looking to guarantee themselves a spot in the top eight. As for the Rabbitohs, they will want to stay in touch with second spot on the competition ladder. A win tonight will see them join the second-placed Storm on 34-points.
Souths will go into the match with the 1-13 that was announced on Tuesday afternoon but Clark and Justin Hunt drop off an extended bench with Roy Asotasi making his anticipated return to first grade.
For the Sharks Ben Ross is out, Mark Taufua will start in the front row with Tyson Frizell joining the bench.
1 min: Dave Taylor goes touch in goal fielding the kick off and the Sharks will get an early attacking opportunity!
2 min: Jeff Robson throws a terrible pass and the Sharks butcher an early opportunity.
3 min: Matt King spills the ball a few metres into Sharks' territory! No completed sets so far.
4 min: Colin Best knocks on only 10 out from the try line.
5 min: Souths get a penalty 20 out from their own line.
6 min: Ribson cleans up for the Sharks 10 metres out from his own line.
8 min: Sharks receive a penalty 10 metres into Rabbitohs' territory on the third tackle.
9 min: Jeremy Smith is pinned for a forward pass less than a metre out from the try line.
15 min: Greg Inglis is making some great kick return metres for the Rabbitohs tonight.
18 min: Sharks receive a penalty a few metres into the Rasbbitohs' half.
21 min: TRY
TRY! Robson throws a dummy before throwing an inside pass to Andrew Fifita who scores under the posts. Todd Carney converts from right in front.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 6-0
22 min: The Sharks receive a penalty 30 out from the Rabbitohs' line after the Sharks make 70 metres.
23 min: PENALTY GOAL ATTEMPT
The Sharks opt to go for the two but Carney misses it.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 6-0
24 min: Fifita knocks a few metres into Rabbitohs' territory.
26 min: The Sharks will get a scrum 10 out from their own line after Dylan Farrell knocks a ball into touch.
34 min: Dave Taylor comes away with a one on one strip on halfway.
35 min: Souths receive a penalty 30 out from the Sharks' line.
35 min: Eddy Pettybourne loses the ball 12 out from the Sharks' line.
37 min: The Rabbitohs receive a penalty 15 out from their own line.
38 min: Adam Ryenolds forces a line drop out.
40 min: Reynolds forces another line drop out.
40 min: Ricky Leutele is pushed into touch 10 metres out but there will not be enough time to pack the scrum and the Sharks hold onto a six-point-lead going into the break.
41 min: Dylan Farell gets us underway in the second half.
41 min: The Sharks receive a penalty 42 out from the Rabbitohs' line on tackle four.
43 min: A Robson grubber goes dead and the Rabbitohs will breathe a sigh of relief.
47 min: Sam Burgess loses the ball only 12 out from his own line and the Sharks will get a scrum 10 out.
48 min: Matthew Wright loses the ball on tackle one on the back off the scrum.
53 min: The Rabbits receive a penalty only 20 out from the Sharks' try line.
55 min: TRY
TRY! Burgess muscles his way over the try line. Reynolds converts from right in front.
56 min: Reynolds loses the ball 30 out from the Sharks' line after a strong set.
59 min: The Sharks will get a scrum on halfway after Farrell plays at a Carney pass.
60 min: Merritt diffuses a Carney cross-field bomb and the Rabbits will get a 20 metre tap.
66 min: FIELD GOAL
Reynolds kicks a field goal from 40 out.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 7-6
68 min: The Sharks receive a penalty a few metres out from halfway.
71 min: TRY
TRY! Carney puts Frizell into a hole a few metres out from the try line and he scores. Carney's conversion attempt is successful.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 12-7
74 min: Inglis is trapped in goal, and the Sharks will get another attacking opportunity.
75 min: The Sharks receive a penalty 10 out and 10 in from the touch and they will go for the two.
77 min: PENALTY GOAL
Carney adds the extras from 19 out and 10 in from touch.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 14-7
78 min: The Rabbits go for the short kick off and De Gois cleans it up and gets it to over halfway on tackle one.
78 min: FIELD GOAL ATTEMPT
Carney attempts a field goal from 10 out but it's waved away.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 14-7
79 min: Pettybourne is pushed into touch 30 out from the Sharks' line and that should be the ball game.
80 min: John Williams might have a try here. Just checking the onside.
80 min: TRY
TRY! Issac Degois makes a break out of dummy half and kicks it down field, Williams races through and scores. Carney's conversion attempt is successful.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 20-7