Burgess sent off in extra time as Hynes kicks Sharks in 86th minute


Nicho Hynes fired the Cronulla Sharks to a 21-20 victory in a chaotic Golden Point game in which Tom Burgess was sent off the field in overtime.

In the NRL week that had it all, perhaps we should have expected the unexpected. Certainly, few could have predicted an arrival like this.

Under the watchful eye of a noisy, sold-out Shark Park, the two teams failed to clear the other and missed five field goal attempts between them before Hynes netted the sixth.

Deep in the second period of extra time, Burgess was sent off the field for a high shot on Ronaldo Mulitalo, presenting the position on the pitch from which the Sharks scored their goal.

The result bolsters their first four claims, both pulling Cronulla one win ahead of Melbourne and diminishing the threat from the Souths. If the Bunnies had won, they would have tied with 26 points. Instead, they are now ranked underdogs for the top four.

It was the strangest of contests. These are clearly both good sides, but it would be hard to say that either was close to its best.

When the souths were on, they looked great, but struggled to cram more than ten minutes of pressure together at once.

Their set pieces were often poor, with Lachlan Ilias caught twice on the last one, and on other occasions they simply looked unwilling to kick the ball in their characteristic fashion.

Much of the credit for that can go to Cronulla. Their ability to change momentum, especially through Hynes kicks and hard back shots, brought them back into the game.

They would then vanish from it through errors. The Sharks made ten in the second half alone, inviting their opponents to come back when it would have been possible to close the game.

Both sides suffered injuries. Jed Cartwright left with a hamstring problem, forcing a reshuffle that put Kodi Nikorima at fullback and Latrell Mitchell at centre. There, his influence was greatly diminished.

The Sharks lost Royce Hunt after 15 minutes and Andrew Fifita and Wade Graham to concussion test spells.

The South flew out of the blocks. They put two firsts on the board via a penalty goal from Mitchell, before Alex Johnston got his now obligatory try in the left side corner. He also earned a near-binding new record, moving into the all-time top ten for try scorers.

The Souths then completely gave up their momentum. From the time Johnston crossed at halftime, they had 40% of the ball and a third of the territory.

It took the Sharks a while to hit, but once they did, they barely left the Bunnies’ end. They unveiled their favorite move, a deep right shift with moving men that brought Connor Tracey outside Johnston and into the corner.

Souths’ goal line was holding up pretty well. They repelled an almost constant attack, leaving Cronulla with just a penalty goal for Hynes to show off their efforts.

It was going to take something very special to cross the line, and it came via Mulitalo. Hynes delivered a kick that landed on Lachlan Ilias, and the winger rose high, suspended in the air and crashed to the ground for one of the most spectacular tries of the year.

Although Cronulla went on the break 14-8 up front, they might have thought it should have been more.

Surely when Latrell Mitchell landed minutes into the second half they would have thought so.

Much like the first half, however, Souths faded ten minutes. Cam McInnes closed in but struck as he stretched for the line, but moments later Andrew Fifita rolled back the years with a spirited ram try.

Fifita was then taken off for a dodgy HIA – the man himself, who had the crowd cheering his every move, was less than impressed – and it got South Sydney going again.

They swept from side to side and freed Walker, before pinning Hynes next to a post. The Bunnies flew into tackles and forced the Sharks to kick from their own 20.

They never gave up on field position and, after patiently building up, dropped Junior Tatola on an inside line to level the scores. The home fans screamed for a double move, but the bunker let it hold.

At the golden point, Mitchell and Matt Moylan both had two wide attempts, forcing a second half overtime. Tom Burgess took a huge break to present another chance, but Mitchell, again, made it a meal.

As the Sharks sent the ball back downfield, they swung to the left, crossed the line through Mulitalo and as he looked for clearance, Burgess blindsided him high.

The English prop was sent from the field, Cronulla took position and Hynes did the rest.




Sports Grp2

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