The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks have consolidated their spot in the top four, with two second half tries seeing them score an 18-6 win over the 13th placed Bulldogs at Commbank Stadium.
Despite the heavy rain, both sides played quite an expansive brand of footy early, with Wade Graham making a break off an early left side shift. It gave the Sharks momentum, and they took advantage of it, with Ronaldo Mulitalo crossing in the corner at the end of that same set.
The Sharks were scrappy in attack for the next 15 minutes or so, with Hynes getting multiple 5th tackle kicks wrong, letting the Bulldogs off the hook. They had multiple opportunities but couldn't capitalise, and when Talakai batted the ball over the sideline in the 22nd minute the momentum shifted.
It was the Bulldogs who had all the ball and field position from that point, with the Sharks turning the ball over whenever they had the chance to take possession.
Despite ending the first half with only 40% of the ball, it looked as though the Sharks would carry an unlikely lead into the break after constantly turning up in defence. However, the Bulldogs came up with a dagger with literally 2 seconds left until the break, with Kyle Flanagan producing a well weighted grubber for Jake Averillo to pounce on and score. Burton converted, and the score was 6-6 at the break.
Perhaps the biggest turning point of the match came 6 minutes into the second half. The Bulldogs were on the attack with momentum and Raymond Faitala-Mariner looked to be in for all money, however he dropped the ball over the line.
5 minutes later, the Sharks re-took the lead courtesy of a beautiful Nicho Hynes cutout pass to Sione Katoa, who beat Josh Addo-Carr with ease before getting around Matt Burton in cover. Hynes iced the sideline conversion for the second time, making it a 6-point ball game once again.
3 minutes later, the Sharks would get a penalty and look to force the Bulldogs to score twice if they wanted to win, but Hynes produced his first miss with the boot all game. Matt Burton found touch with the dropout, and the Dogs would go on the attack to try and even up the game once again.
The Bulldogs received a major setback when a possible try was overturned after the bunker deemed Will Kennedy was pushed in the back off the ball. The Sharks got a 6-again and forced a repeat set, before finally closing the game out with a Briton Nikora try in the 64th minute.
Next week, the Sharks will host the Storm in an origin effected Thursday Night game, while the Bulldogs have a bye.