Ben Hunt‘s desire to leave the struggling St George Illawarra Dragons was evident in their disappointing match against bitter rivals Cronulla. Despite keeping the game close for the majority of the contest, a lapse in concentration allowed the Sharks to score multiple tries in quick succession, resulting in a humiliating 52-16 defeat for the Dragons. This defeat adds to the team’s recent poor performances, with the Dragons conceding a staggering 156 points in their last four games.
Prior to the match, Hunt had a meeting with club officials where he reluctantly agreed to stay until the end of the year, dispelling any rumors of an early departure to help his former club, the Brisbane Broncos, in their quest for a premiership. However, it is widely believed that Hunt will leave the Dragons at the end of the season, despite having two more years remaining on his contract. The Gold Coast is seen as a likely destination for the talented halfback.
Unfortunately, even with Hunt giving it his all, the Dragons‘ problems run deeper than one player can fix. Their new coach, Shane Flanagan, will have a challenging task ahead of him as he tries to turn the team’s fortunes around. The Dragons‘ long history of mediocrity will make it difficult for them to attract top talent, and they may have to pay significantly higher wages to secure quality players.
Although Tyrell Sloan showed flashes of brilliance with his 91-meter try, he also had moments of inexperience, such as a costly pass that went over the touchline. Andrew Johns, famous for his commentary, humorously commented, “I think Tyrell is more of a runner than he is a passer.”
Cronulla displayed their superiority as the game progressed, with Nicho Hynes making a significant impact by scoring the club’s first try and providing a beautiful short ball for Briton Nikora‘s try. Hynes finished the match with three try assists, catching the attention of New South Wales coach Brad Fittler, who was in attendance. While Hynes may not be selected for the Origin III match, he is certainly impressing at the club level.
The Sharks‘ back five, including Ronaldo Mulitalo, proved to be a handful for the Dragons‘ defense. Mulitalo scored two tries, further solidifying his impressive record of 22 tries in 21 games at PointsBet Stadium. Notably, Braden Hamlin-Uele suffered a rib injury early in the game, while Tom Hazelton became a local favorite with his tries and received a standing ovation when he left the field.
In terms of disciplinary issues, Dale Finucane of the Sharks was placed on report for a lifting tackle on Blake Lawrie. Although Lawrie landed on his back, any charge against Finucane could have consequences for his poor disciplinary record. A grade-one dangerous contact charge would result in a $3000 fine, but a grade-two charge would mean a three-match suspension.
Looking ahead, the Sharks will face the Wests Tigers in their next match, while the Dragons will host Canberra. With Hunt away on Origin duty, the Dragons must adjust to playing without their key playmaker.