Cronulla’s Nicho Hynes bounced back after being labeled as fragile in his team’s heavy loss to the Storm. Despite a shaky start which included a kick out on the full and a forward pass, Hynes regained his confidence and controlled the game, leading the Sharks to a commanding 38-point victory over the Bulldogs. The sold-out Cronulla crowd was initially anxious due to Hynes’ early errors, but he quickly turned things around with an impressive 80-meter run that fell just short of the Bulldogs‘ goal line.
The Sharks dominated the first half, scoring 30 points, and their second half onslaught began just 30 seconds after Thomas Hazelton stepped onto the field with a charging run. Hazelton, who contributed with a try, 78 run meters, and six tackle breaks, received a farewell fit for a king as the 11,000-strong crowd cheered him off the field after an excellent 18-minute stint.
On his 27th birthday, Hynes continued to trouble the Bulldogs with his tricky runs and skillful distribution to the wings, which resulted in a try for Briton Nikora early in the second half. Jesse Ramien added to the Sharks‘ lead with an intercept, exposing the flaws in Canterbury’s defense. Although the Bulldogs showed moments of brilliance, they struggled to execute their last plays and conceded points throughout the match.
Kyle Flanagan, who was dropped from the Bulldogs‘ starting side last month, made his NRL return and provided some consolation for the struggling team. He ran the ball from dummy-half and crossed over the Cronulla line, scoring the Bulldogs‘ first try after 30 scoreless minutes. However, it took another 40 minutes for Kurtis Morrin to add to their tally, by which point they were already trailing by a massive 38 points with just seven minutes remaining on the clock.
Cronulla hooker Blayke Brailey had a standout performance, showcasing his skills in both attacking and defensive aspects of the game. He ran the ball from dummy-half and played a crucial role in three tries for the home side, making a strong case for an eventual Origin jersey.
The Sharks‘ first try came from Teig Wilton, courtesy of Hynes’ impressive 80-meter run. From there, Cronulla took turns in widening the gap on the scoreboard. While the initial points came from the wing, the Sharks‘ forwards found success by exploiting the weaknesses in Canterbury’s defense and bulldozed their way through the center.
Without the speed and kicking prowess of Josh Addo-Carr and Matt Burton, the Bulldogs struggled to execute their attacking plays. Their goal-line defense was also exposed as fragile and unable to withstand Cronulla’s constant pressure.