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Gallant Sharks savour gutsy NRL win

Sharks celebrate their golden point win

After duelling with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority for three months, Cronulla took their fight to Newcastle and came away with a streak-snapping NRL victory.
Gallant Sharks savour gutsy NRL win
by AAP

By Joe Barton

NEWCASTLE, NSW, May 5 AAP - After duelling with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority for three months, Cronulla took their fight to Newcastle and came away with a streak-snapping NRL victory.

The relief of the Sharks after Jeff Robson's golden point field goal was etched across the faces of every player as they put an end to a four-game losing run on Sunday.

Robson's wobbly one-pointer, the ninth attempt of the match between both teams, sealed a 21-20 victory and at least briefly silenced the investigation into alleged doping at the club, which has appeared to already tear their season apart.


Make no mistake, this was a gutsy victory.

And they did it without Paul Gallen from the third minute onwards, after the inspiration skipper suffered a knee injury in his first carry of the game.

"They're a tough bunch and they're getting tougher with all the stuff going on externally," a relieved Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said after the match.

"We're not the most skilled team in the competition but games like that we'll stick in there and on our day we'll have a fight with anyone."

Gallen received good news in that he's only suffered a medial ligament strain, which Flanagan doesn't believe puts his State of Origin campaign in any doubt.

But to secure the first golden point victory of the season in such a fashion had veteran hooker John Morris bursting with pride.

"It's massive," he said.

"Four (losses) in a row. You just struggle to see where your next win is going to come from.

"It was just a really tough win.

"A win that the Sharks have been known for over the years. A really gritty one.

"We're really happy now that's for sure."

When Gallen went down, Flanagan didn't curse the rotten luck which has plagued him this season.

Instead he challenged his forwards to lift in his absence - and they delivered.

Young prop Andrew Fifita did his NSW chances no harm by running a monstrous 270 metres, while Wade Graham was immense in defence and Luke Lewis came up with half a dozen crucial plays in the final 15 minutes.

Fifita said he viewed his match-up with Newcastle prop Willie Mason as a personal challenge, and had been revved up by his teammates to come out on top by fulltime.

"The whole team was (into me about Mason)," Fifita said.

"We came in at halftime and they said `look at your opposition, you've got to be better than him ... if you do that we'll come away with the win'.

"I think all the boys should be very proud and we ended up doing it."

Newcastle rued a controversial decision to award a first-half try to Sharks centre Jonathan Wright, who bagged a double, with captain Kurt Gidley fuming about the ruling on the field.

Gidley challenged referee Gavin Badger over the decision, saying replays had clearly shown Wade Graham knocked the ball on in the lead-up, but his coach Wayne Bennett afterwards said while the video referees appeared to have erred that was not where the game was lost.

"We thought he'd knocked the ball forward," Bennett said.

"They can ring me up tomorrow and apologise if they want to but that's not going to mean anything to us.

"It had an impact (but) the biggest impact was our performances."

Newcastle five-eighth Jarrod Mullen will have scans this week after leaving the field following a knock to his left knee - the same knee he had cleaned out earlier this year.




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