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Bunker officials axed after ‘stuff-up’ denies Dragons against Cronulla

“Steve Clark and Ben Galea were due to officiate again in the Titans-Panthers game as bunker officials. They have now been relegated, and will be replaced by Jared Maxwell and Brian Norrie.”

McGregor couldn’t hide his frustration in the post-match press conference.

“Pretty clear, right? So how do they keep getting it wrong and who is accountable for it?” McGregor said.

“Because it’s a stuff-up and, in the end, that’s the difference. The person who is watching this and [the media] should make enough song and dance to do something about it. Because it’s not good enough.”

The incident overshadowed an otherwise thrilling and entertaining game.

The Dragons were booed as they ran onto Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, but at least this time it wasn’t by their own fans.

The rest of the league community should stand and applaud what transpired in Kogarah on Saturday night. The wet conditions pointed towards a slugfest, yet the floodgates opened in the form of points. The Sharks scored more of them, but had to withstand a comeback to get the two that mattered.

The result could have been very different had Matt Dufty, in an otherwise flawless performance, been able to ground a Ben Hunt grubber. Or if Jason Saab hadn’t spilled a chance in the dying seconds.

“A massive sigh of relief there, geez,” Cronulla coach John Morris said. “That was a nervous last 20 minutes there.

Aaron Woods of the Sharks celebrates a try.

Aaron Woods of the Sharks celebrates a try.Credit:Getty

“I’m just so proud of the boys, that was a local derby like they are meant to be played. So much went on in the game … I was really proud of the boys to come here and get the job done.”

Coming back to Kogarah, St George Illawarra were foreigners in a familiar land. Cronulla also find themselves in unfamiliar territory; in the top eight after the controversial result.

The Dragons led by eight points early, but quickly found themselves 14 points down. The game seemed over, yet the Dragons’ comeback, achieved without Adam Clune and Trent Merrin due to concussions, only just fell short.

The Sharks also suffered injuries, with Jesse Ramien (hamstring) and Chad Townsend (calf) booked for scans.

So much has changed since the sides last met in round five. Three coaches have been sacked and none of them have been Paul McGregor or Morris. Indeed, the Sharks have won five of their past six. Aside from a very off day against Penrith, they could stake a claim as one of the form sides of the NRL.

In the form of Shaun Johnson and Sione Katoa, the Sharks have the league’s top try-scorer and try-maker respectively. Johnson even had the audacity to cross for one himself.

Defence has not been the strong suit of either side during their resurgences. Thirty-six points were scored in the first half, the second-highest total for an opening 40 minutes all season.

Some of the tries, such as Zac Lomax’s first, were memorable. It involved action from side to side and end to end, included two kicks and, again, featured Dufty heavily in the lead-up.

Dufty made the best of a bad situation. The game was only five minutes old when he dislocated a finger. He didn’t even wince as it was wrenched back into place. The fullback was everywhere, breaking tackles and cleaning up awkward situations. With his side seemingly out of it, he combined spectacularly with Lomax on numerous occasions to keep them in it.

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Dufty was literally pushed over the edge at half-time. Pummeled into the advertising hoardings once too often after cleaning up a grubber, it was all too much.

The players had to be pulled apart before it got really nasty. Instead, they refocused, went about the task of entertaining the ‘home’ crowd, and delivered another derby doozy.

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