The Late Mail: Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles
3 hours ago | LeagueUnlimited Media
The Cronulla Sharks will be sweating on the availability of halfback Shaun Johnson after he left the field with a hamstring injury in a 44-24 win over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on Sunday.
Johnson was at his scheming best early as he helped Cronulla to a commanding lead in the opening half.
He pulled up through with a hamstring complaint after setting up the fourth try of the afternoon and had to come from the field.
The Sharks sit inside the top eight and have a relatively soft run home but will still be hoping for Johnson to be fit given they are already without five-eighth Matt Moylan.
It was the only headache out of an otherwise dominant first 40 minutes.
Cronulla looked to have gone over after just three minutes when Sione Katoa leapt over in the right corner but his aerobatic effort went unrewarded with replays showing he grounded it on the line.
Another Katoa try went begging six minutes later when Jesse Ramien was unable to link inside with the unmarked winger after a Briton Nikora linebreak.
Katoa could not be denied shortly after though as Johnson put the winger over and six minutes later it was the other edge with Braydon Trindall floating it over for Ronaldo Mulitalo.
Luke Thompson had been the Bulldogs best early and a strong charge from the prop saw the home side bag its first points of the afternoon.
Unnecessary late contact on Blayke Brailey though saw Thompson sent to the bin and both Katoa and Will Kennedy scored while the front rower was off to push the lead out to 18.
More ill-discipline gifted Cronulla field position and they were quick to capitalise as Connor Tracey, deputising in the halves for Johnson, put Siosifa Talakai through some flimsy Dogs defence.
The Bulldogs were gifted an early chance in the second half courtesy of a Talakai error and a perfect Lachlan Lewis kick saw Nick Meaney open the scoring to make it 30-12.
It quickly turned into two as Cronulla was caught watching once more as Meaney again took a bomb and linked with Dylan Napa.
The Bulldogs were still well on top for the next few minutes before a poor kick from Averillo led to a seven-tackle set and shortly after Toby Rudolf crashed over to extend the difference to 18 again.
It was Thompson though that got the Bulldogs back into the contest once more, bumping off defenders and stepping through with pace and footwork to set up Averillo.
A penalty goal and Connor Tracey try put the result beyond doubt as the Bulldogs tired and the Sharks breathed a sigh of relief, surviving the second-half fightback.
Cronulla face a stern test next week in the form of Manly while the Bulldogs face the Titans.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 24 - Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 44
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium
Halftime Score: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 6 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 30
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Briton Nikora
2 points - Luke Thompson
1 points - Sione Katoa
CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS (24)
Tries: Luke Thompson, Jake Averillo, Nick Meaney, Dylan Napa
Conversions: Jake Averillo (4/4)
CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS (44)
Tries: Sione Katoa (2), Ronaldo Mulitalo, Will Kennedy, Siosifa Talakai, Toby Rudolf, Connor Tracey
Conversions: Braydon Trindall (6/7)
Penalty Goals: Braydon Trindall (2/2)