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Sharks swim past Dogs in downpour to keep top four hopes alive

Canterbury were unable to overcome the elements and a stoic Cronulla defence as the Sharks claimed an 18-6 win to strengthen their spot in the NRL’s top-four.

In front of 8837 fans at a rain-soaked Commbank Stadium, the Bulldogs were aiming for a third straight win for the first time since 2019.

But they came up short as Ronaldo Mulitalo, Sione Katoa and Briton Nikora scored tries to give Craig Fitzgibbon’s side their 10th win of the season on Saturday.

Canterbury fullback Jake Averillo scored his team’s only try and the Bulldogs, who who were without interim coach Mick Potter after he contracted COVID-19, will also be dealing with a mounting injury toll.

Tevita Pangai Jr succumbed to an ankle injury in the first half and debutant Declan Casey followed him off after halftime when he got his head in the wrong place as he tried to bring down Sharks prop Andrew Fifita.

Canterbury are already without Luke Thompson, Ava Seumanufagai, Billy Tsikrikas and Jack Hetherington and a long-term injury to Pangai would severely test their forward depth.

Despite the testing conditions which led to large puddles of water across the playing surface, Cronulla started with an expansive gameplan as Mulitalo dived in at the corner after six minutes.

The Sharks had the majority of possession in the opening quarter of the game but were unable to capitalise as Canterbury’s defence held firm.

Matt Burton pulled off a pinpoint covering tackle after a 40-metre break from Mulitalo with Kyle Flanagan producing a strip on Siosifa Talakai on the next tackle.

Canterbury grew into the game but it wasn’t until the last play of the half when Averillo pulled them level after diving on a grubber kick from Jeremy Marshall-King into the Cronulla in-goal.

Averillo and Raymond Faitala-Mariner both went close to scoring Canterbury’s second try early in the second half off the back of a towering Burton bomb.

But no sooner had they fluffed their lines and Cronulla went up the other end with Nicho Hynes sending Katoa in on the flank.

Play was interrupted for 10 minutes as Casey received attention and was taken off in a medicab. Hynes had a chance to open up an eight-point buffer with a penalty not long after but missed his chance.

It mattered for little because with 17 minutes to go Nikora hit a nice line off fullback Will Kennedy and waltzed through to wrap up a Cronulla victory.


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