It was a much more composed and methodical Sharks side though that got the biscuits against a largely sloppy yet at times spirited Dragons side, Cronulla finishing 32-18 winners at Kogarah tonight.
The Dragons turned the ball over in just their third tackle of the game, which set the tone for their first half. In the next set, Chad Townsend put in a clever grubber that curled to the left, avoiding Matt Dufty, before Josh Dugan followed through and pounced on the loose ball to score under the posts. Townsend converted.
Both sides struggled to threaten over the next ten minutes, however the Sharks were winning the battle purely through good set completion and yardage through the middle.
In the 12th minute, William Kennedy put in a short grubber just seven metres from the Dragons line on the right edge. Two Dragons players fell over trying to defend it and Kennedy followed through and fell on the loose ball to score. Townsend converted from near the sideline.
Four minutes later, Jesse Ramien was given ten minutes in the sin bin for a swinging arm on Matt Dufty, which lead to a brief embrace by both sides.
Chad Townsend kicked a penalty goal several minutes later to extend the Sharks lead beyond 2 converted tries.
The Dragons found silly ways to turn the ball over at dummy half and while the Sharks managed to build pressure with a number of repeat sets, especially via good short kicking, they couldn't trouble the scorers any further. On the halftime bell, Matt Moylan had a crack at a field goal, but it was waved away.
The Dragons finally got on the board seven minutes into the first half after Ben Hunt's bomb was allowed to bounce by Kennedy and Mulitalo, it then bounced backwards into the hands of Adam Clune, who just got across the line to score under the posts. Zac Lomax converted.
In the 54th minute, Ben Hunt received the ball on the left, drifted sideways and then hit a charging Matt Dufty with a nice pass and Dufty exploded through a small gap, brushed out of a tackle attempt by Kennedy to score under the posts. Lomax converted to reduce the margin to just two.
In the 61st minute Hunt put up a cross-field bomb from a long way out. Katoa lets it bounce and is tackled around the collar just after he grabs it. The balls spilled out and Ramsay cleaned it up and dived over the line to score, injuring his ankle in the process. The video ref overturns the decision of a try after finding a tiny knock-on by Jack Bird.
Just a few minutes later, Townsend put up a bomb of his own, which was tapped back by Wade Graham. Matt Moylan picked up the ball and quickly kicked to the left where it bounced once before Ronaldo Mulitalo cleaned it up and dived over to score untouched to the left of the posts. Townsend added the extras to take the lead back out to 8 points.
Just two minutes passed before the Sharks crossed again. From a scrum, the Sharks sent it left to Townsend, then onto Moylan, who hits the trailing runner Kennedy with a lovely short ball. Kennedy then sent it along to Mulitalo, who drew the cover defender before passing back in to Kennedy who scored a brilliant try. Townsend then converted from near touch.
The Dragons kept the game alive with siz minutes remaining when Hunt kicked from the left to the right. The ball evaded the grabbing attempts by Lomax and Dugan, before bouncing into the waiting arms of Mikaele Ravalawa who scored in the corner. Lomax's sideline conversion was an absolute beauty.
The Sharks hit back just minutes later when Aaron Woods spun out of a tackle and bounced onto the stripe to score a try to the right of the posts. Townsend converted to give the Sharks a 32-18 victory.