The Cronulla Sharks have put in a near perfect display of mistake-free football to defeat the Canterbury Bulldogs by 30-20 at Telstra Stadium today.
With few handling errors to speak of, the Sharks posted their sixth win from 10 starts and their third win in row.
Following a strong defensive display and good field position in the opening stanza, the Sharks drew first blood in the 26th minute when forward Phil Leuluai capitalised on a dummy half run and pass from five eighth Adam Dykes.
The Sharks repeated the dose with another converted try when bench player Isaac De Gois burst through with a sensational run in the 35th minute.
But the visitors didn't have it all the their own way with Bulldogs half back Brent Sherwin intercepting and racing 95 metres to score just before the break.
At half time, the Sharks led 12-6.
The Bulldogs continued to fight back with a try to back rower Sonny Bill Williams early in the second half, and had the opportunity the level the scores with the conversion but a rare miss from goal kicker Hazem El Masri saw the home side trail by two.
Solid defence from the Sharks and numerous handling errors from the Bulldogs put Cronulla back in the driver's seat with a try to Reece Williams in the 54th minute.
Centre Ben Pomeroy was in six minutes later to put the Sharks up by 24-10 and looking to go on with it.
But the Bulldogs fought back again with Sherwin getting a double in the 68th minute with a well worked team try, and then prop Jarrad Hickey scoring three minutes later to make it 24-20 in the final stages.
Amazingly, the game's best goal kicker El Masri missed a relatively easy conversion attempt after the Sherwin try, his second miss of the night, and the Bulldogs found themselves four points behind despite both teams having scored four tries each.
But the Sharks were not to be denied. A well deserved try to back rower and man-of-the-match Paul Gallen in the dying minutes put the match beyond doubt.
Round 10 - Full Time :: May 20th, 2007 03:00 PM Venue: Telstra Stadium Referee: Ben Cummins
Canterbury Bulldogs 20 Tries: Brent Sherwin (2), Sonny Bill Williams, Jarrad Hickey Goals: Hazem El Masri (2/4) Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 30 Tries: Phillip Leuluai, Isaac De Gois, Reece Williams, Ben Pomeroy, Paul Gallen Goals: Luke Covell (5/5)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Paul Gallen (Sharks) 2 Points: Greg Bird (Sharks) 1 Point: Adam Dykes (Sharks) LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Plenty of positional changes most notably the omission of full back Brett Kearmey for the Sharks. As part of the backline re-shuffle, Greg Bird has been moved from lock to centre. Players coming onto the field...
KICK OFF! Bulldogs have first use of the ball.
10 min: Plenty of pressure on the Bulldogs early on with the Sharks getting repeat sets. Bulldogs survive with Sharks halfback Brett Kimmorley kicking the ball dead.
15 min: Still 0-0. A Bulldogs raid ends with the ball going to ground, the Sharks now with the ball 25m out from their own line.
19 min: Still 0-0 with the Sharks looking the goods. A try scoring opportunity is lost when a Bulldogs defender is held back and the Sharks are penalised.
21 min: Sharks get two penalties in row and opt to go for the try rather than a penalty goal.
22 min: Video ref ruling. No try to the Sharks but scrutiny is required and Sharks winger Luke Covell is ruled to have knocked the ball dead. Bulldogs get a 20m restart.
23 min: Excellent football from both sides with the Bulldogs throwing it around only to fall short on the last tackle thanks to some solid Sharks defence.
26 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks Big Phil Leuluai scores in good position after five eighth Adam Dykes runs from dummy half to put him into a gap. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell successful. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 6-0
33 min: Another attacking raid fromthe Sharks with a well executed grubber kick being defused by Bulldogs winger Hazem El Masri.
35 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks Interchange hooker Isaac De Gois busts downfield after pushing away defenders and runs over 50m to score a sensational try. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell successful. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 12-0
39 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Half back Brent Sherwin pulls off an intercept 5m out from his own line and run the length to score the Bulldogs opening try. Wide conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 12-6
Half time: Sharks 12-6 A highly entertaining half with the Sharks looking likely to go three tries up before Sherwin saved the Bulldogs with an intercept and 95m sprint right on the stroke of half time. The Sharks have been defending well, have had some quality possession and field position, and should be further ahead. The Bulldogs are still in this, but they have been dominated at times and have some work to do.
Second half underway...
45 min: Possible TRY to Sharks. Video ref checking.... VERDICT: NO TRY - Centre Fraser Anderson denied. Ball knocked out and its a 20m restart to the Bulldogs.
47 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Back rower Sonny Bill Williams backs himself and gets past Dykes, Covell and Ben Pomeroy to score out wide. Follows a quick tap from Sherwin. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri unsuccessful. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 12-10
54 min: Possible TRY to Sharks. Video ref looking... VERDICT...
54 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks Reece Williams scores following a Bulldogs knock-on. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell successful. An extraordinary series of events with a Kimmorley kick being snatched by Bulldogs fullback Luke Patten and the Bulldogs well on the attack, only to see five eighth Ben Roberts lose the ball cold. The Sharks capitalised while the Bulldogs are now making numerous handling errors. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 18-10
60 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks Centre Ben Pomeroy on the end of fine movement with Greg Bird laying it on with a tremendous right foot step before passing to forward Paul Gallen, Pomeroy running onto the final pass and turning on the pace to score. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell successful. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 24-10
68 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Sherwin gets a double and a great team try with hooker Corey Hughes and lock Reni Maitua featuring. Follows a rare Sharks error. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri misses. A surprise from the golden boot as he has now missed two in a row and this one was in easy range 20m in from touch. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 24-14
71 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Prop Jarrad Hickey scores following a beaut cut-out pass from Sherwin. Its game on! Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful this time! Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 24-20
74 min: Possible TRY to Sharks. Video ref checking... VERDICT... NO TRY - 20m restart to the Bulldogs. Paul Gallen denied after video ref rules that he didn't get it down cleanly.
76 min: Bulldogs attacking but are unable to complete the fifth tackle movement. Sharks hanging on.
77 min: Sharks on the attack now and finishing strong with a gallop from Bird.
78 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks Gallen scores a well deserved try with a strong run at the line, dragging defenders in his wake and putting the match beyond doubt. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell successful. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 30-20
79 min: Sherwin's kick off out on the full. Penalty to the Sharks. Hooter sounds in the background as Sharks end the match.
Full time: Sharks 30-20