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The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks have defeated the Saint George Illawarra Dragons 12-0 in a gritty match in front of 21,380 crowd at Toyota Stadium.
In a high quality match that was not decided until the final minutes, the crowd was treated to the match of the season.
The first 20 minutes of the match was an intense physical battle between the traditional rivals and reminiscent of the hard fought forward contests of yesteryear.
Despite the closeness of the contest the Sharks opened up the scoring early, with John Morris strolling over for a try in only the seventh minute on the back of a great offload from Paul Gallen.
The second twenty minutes was full of opportunities and brilliant defense, especially from the home side who held out the Dragons for three consecutive sets 20 out from the line.
After the break, the Sharks were their own worst enemies as they struggled to complete their sets, however the Dragons failed to capitalise, experiencing their own case of poor ball handling.
The Dragons saw opportunity after opportunity go wasted, as a lack of direction from their playmakers saw opportunities go begging. When it was not poor decision from their own halves costing them, it was the Sharks' defense, which was consistent through out the 80 minutes.
Victory for the home side was soured in the 78th minute, with fullback Nathan Gardner carried off injured.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 12 defeated St George Illawarra Dragons 0
National Rugby League - Round 6 - Saturday April 7, 2012 7:30pm
Venue: Toyota Stadium
Referee: Matt Cecchin and Adam Devcich
Video Referee: Russell Smith
Touch Judges: Jeff Younis and Grant Atkins
Halftime: Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 6 St George Illawarra Dragons 0
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Colin Best
2 Points - Jeff Robson
1 Point - Paul Gallen
CRONULLA SUTHERLAND SHARKS (12)
Tries: John Morris, Wade Graham
Conversions: Todd Carney (2/2)
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (0)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Join the conversation! Our forums are open for discussion 24/7 on the greatest game of all!
If you love Twitter, you'll love @LeagueUnlimited! Today's official NRL match hashtag is #NRLcrosti Welcome everybody! This is going to be a beauty! Here are the changes: Jon Green drops off the Sharks five man bench, Taufua stays. For the Dragons, Matt Prior is OUT, Beau Scott moves to the centres with Under 20's gun Nathan Green in the centres. Jack de Belin starts in place of Dean Young at lock. Young drops back to the bench.
First sell out at Shark Park since 2004!
Both teams taking their places. Sharks to have first use
1 min: Sloppy pick up, but either way, the Sharks are brining it out! 3rd tackle!
1 min: Morris brings back the ball to the 40 metre line off a kick return.
1 min: Williams defuses a high kick! Sharks coming away with it now. Dragons have slight advantage
2 min: Dragons back into Sharks half, 4th tackle.
3 min: A fumble from the Sharks winger, but it went back says the referee. Sharkies under the pump.
4 min: Sharks put it down, Dragons in attacking position
4 min: Dragons put it down and relieve pressure
7 min: TRY
FIRST TRY TO THE SHARKS! Robson goes to Gallen, he passes to Best, Best gets through the line, he passes to the winger who passes back to Robson who gives it to Morris as he cruises over. Carney lining up the kick and he kicks it
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 6-0
8 min: Back under way and the Sharks, not surprisingly have a spring to their attack, the crowd are happy.
8 min: Sharks roughing it up!
9 min: Great kick by Soward putting Gardner under pressure
10 min: Morris has the ball for the Dragons but the Sharks defence gets him 8 metres from the line
11 min: Sharks into the Dragons half. 4th tackle.
12 min: Stanley defuses the high ball from the Sharks. They begin to work out. 3rd tackle
12 min: Dragons put the ball into touch, 10 metres from the Sharks' line.
13 min: INFRINGEMENT: Penalty Sharks. 1-0 stripping of the ball.
14 min: 10metres out and here come Cronulla, 3rd tackle
15 min: INFRINGEMENT: Penalty Dragons. 1-1. Player being dragged into touch after being held.
16 min: Sharks working it from their own half.
17 min: Dragons into the Sharks half. 4th tackle..
18 min: SIX TO GO! Dragons 20 metres out.
19 min: INFRINGEMENT: Penalty Dragons 2-1. Unlawfully striking of the head.
19 min: Dragons held up over the line. Play the ball. 3rd tackle
19 min: SIX TO GO! kick played at! Dragons attacking, 3 metres out.
20 min: Nightingale stopped just metres from the line, then Green almost crashes over. Great D, 4th tackle.
21 min: AND THE SHARKS DEFUSE THE KICK AND THE ATTACKING RAID! THEY TAKE THE QUICK TAP THROUGH POMMEROY AND MAKE IT TO THE 40 METRE LINE!
22 min: The ball goes dead in goal, tap to the Dragons
23 min: Dragons go 58m and put up an attacking kick...
23 min: And who else but Paul Gallen comes up with it. A Shark player down in back play, will keep you informed.
24 min: Dragons winger Vidot defuses the kick and they now come away with it. High quality match, Sharks player fine.
25 min: Soward clears the ball and kicks it dead from halfway. Tap to the Sharks.
28 min: Robson kicks the ball out on the full 33 metres from the line. Dragons play the ball
28 min: Stat attack: Every time the Sharks have scored 13 + v Dragons they have been victors, every time they are held to less than 12, they lose at Shark Park over the past few seasons.
29 min: Morris touches the ball and is forced to keep it in. Sharks back on top.
31 min: INFRINGEMENT: Penalty Sharks. 2-2. Taken out in the air.
31 min: INFRINGEMENT: Penalty Sharks. 3-2. Foul in the ruck.
33 min: Some great attack by the Sharks and they go close but just can't get over the line. Dragons ball. Working it from their line.
33 min: INFRINGEMENT: Penalty Dragons. 3-3. Stripping of the ball.
34 min: Dragons finding the gaps but the scramble of the Sharks is just too much.
35 min: And Merrin just drops it cold and the Sharks get a huge let off. Scrum to the Sharks 10 metres out
36 min: Morris brings the kick back to the 20 metre line.
37 min: Gardner does well to go from in goal to his ten metre line as he evades Soward.
38 min: Todd Carney kicks a massive 40/20. Scrum Sharks, 10 metres from the line.
39 min: Gallen comes from the back of the scrum but loses the ball.
39 min: Dragons trying their hardest to make something from nothing here.
40 min: Half-time here! Take a break and we will see you soon.
40 min: We are back underway!
40 min: Off the first play the ball, Weyman puts it down. Sharks scum 20 out.
42 min: Play breaks down for the Sharks and the Dragons have a play the ball.
43 min: Gallen turns the ball back inside and Gardner couldn't get there in time and knocks it on. Scrum Dragons 40 out from their own line.
45 min: INFRINGEMENT: Penalty Dragons. 4-3. Blocker took player out on run. 10 metres out
46 min: Video ref: Dean Young goes over but may have lost it
46 min: NO TRY! Knock on. 20 metre tap for the Sharks
47 min: John Morris loses it and the Dragons get a scrum 40 out.
49 min: SIX TO GO FOR THE DRAGONS! But the Sharks drag them into touch. Awesome effort, scrum Sharks 10 out.
49 min: ANDREW FIFITA CUTS THEM TO PIECES AND GOES ALMOST ALL THE WAY BUT GARDNER CANT TAKE THE PASS AND THE DRAGONS HAVE THE BALL!
50 min: INFRINGEMENT: Penalty Dragons 5-3.
51 min: Wright comes up with an amazing catch, but Vidot puts him back in goal and a drop out will ensue.
52 min: Gallen not happy, players claiming he came from field of play. no over rule.
52 min: And once again the Dragons put it down on tackle one. This time through Ah Mau.
54 min: Sharks really getting into the Dragons through their defence.
55 min: INFRINGEMENT: Penalty Sharks 4-5. Player inside the ten.
55 min: Crowd firing up!
56 min: Gardner goes close but they pull him down. Last tackle.
58 min: TRY
Carney put under pressure, gives it Robson who grubbers through and Wade Graham crashes over for his second of 2012. Carney converts.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 12-0
59 min: The kick off bounces and the Dragons have the ball!
59 min: And they put it down!
60 min: Sharks kick the ball and it goes dead.
61 min: The Dragons just cannot hold onto the pill. Sharks scrum 40 metres out from the Dragons line.
62 min: Jeremy Smith and co force a drop out for the Sharks.
63 min: Twenty metre restart to the Dragons
64 min: INFRINGEMENT: PENALTY DRAGONS. 6-4.
65 min: Dragons just metres from the line.
65 min: Video ref: Jason Nightingale is claiming a try
65 min: NO TRY! Jason Nightingale has a foot on the line. Scrum 10 metres out, Sharks.
66 min: Graham clears the ball as Morris returns the ball, only to be crunched.
68 min: The kick comes down and the Dragons get six more tackles. ten metres out from the Sharks line.
69 min: The Dragons just kick it dead, too much on the kick. 20 metre tap for Sharks.
69 min: Vidot picks up the ball off his shoelaces and brings it back to the 20.
78 min: Nathan Gardner is down with an injury.
80 min: And that is full time.