Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Cronulla winger Luke Covell nailed a 41m penalty goal in just the second minute of golden point extra time to give the Sharks a 18-16 NRL victory over St George Illawarra at ANZ Stadium.
Dragons prop Jason Ryles, a former co-captain, gave away a penalty for holding fullback Brett Kearney down on the fifth tackle and Covell stepped up to seal the win.
Covell had missed a chance to win the game in the 78th minute with a sideline conversion attempt that was nothing short of abysmal.
The Dragons had appeared on track for victory after Ben Hornby crossed in the 70th minute and Jamie Soward converted for a 16-12 lead.
But Sharks five-eighth Greg Bird, in the final roll of the dice, grubbered to the corner and winger Bryson Goodwin clutched the ball from thin air to ground it within millimetres of the sideline and level at 16-16.
It was a bitter end to a tough week for the Dragons, with coach Nathan Brown told he was no longer wanted beyond this year and his job would be taken by Brisbane's Wayne Bennett.
Skipper Mark Gasnier had done his job in getting the Dragons within victory by setting up two tries, but it was Ryles who let the team down.
Gasnier and Sharks opposite Ben Pomeroy staged a battle royale in the centres, the Test star putting Hornby across in the 70th minute after making a break down the right hand side.
The Dragons superstar set up his side's opening try in the 13th minute when he beat Pomeroy's defence and flicked the ball for winger Josh Morris to score in the corner.
But Pomeroy was not to be outdone, he responded with his own reverse-flick pass to put Greg Bird over just shy of the half hour and then kicked ahead in the 63rd minute as fullback Brett Kearney beat Dragons hooker Ben Ellis in the foot race to score, Luke Covell's conversion giving the Sharks the lead.
But the try was not without controversy, video referee Russell Smith awarding it benefit of the doubt even though his grounding was obscured by defenders Brett Kimmorley and Brett Kearney in an attempted trysaver.
A healthy crowd of 15,318 attended the derby, but just how many were paying customers is unclear after an official was spotted handing out a box full of tickets at nearby Rhodes shopping centre in the late afternoon.