The most rusted-on Tigers fans will blow up about Doueihi being denied a try early in the second half. The teams packed the scrum and the bunker ruled Tigers forward Kelma Tuilagi had grabbed the arm of Cronulla’s Teig Wilton too long and obstructed him from making a tackle on Doueihi.
Maguire said he needed to review the footage, but “I think every front-rower is hanging on to someone at some stage, but they decided to look at this one”.
The Tigers blew it. One of the many moments that would have annoyed Maguire was the sight of Mulitalo being allowed to score his second try and improve his position under the posts with not a single Tigers player bothering to stop him.
The only consolation for missing the finals would be getting one over Penrith and coach Ivan Cleary next week, with the western Sydney clubs fast developing the best and most genuine rivalry in the game.
Cronulla deserved the win and momentarily moved back into the top eight. It will be a great shame if scans confirm the worst for Mulitalo, who clutched at his jaw late in the game. This same bloke went through the humiliation of having his Queensland Origin dream crushed because he was ineligible.
Cronulla caretaker coach Josh Hannay said Mulitalo was undergoing scans at the local hospital, but it did not look positive. Mulitalo produced one of the coolest gestures when he burst down field after half-time and looked certain to bring up a hat-trick of tries with no Tigers in front of him, only to hand Luke Metcalf the ball for his first four-pointer in first grade.
Metcalf was good again in just his fourth game while fullback Will Kennedy was his usual reliable self.
Cronulla will need to beat Brisbane and then Melbourne in the final round to make the finals. They have plenty of points in them. Matt Moylan will also strip fitter for the late cameo after a seven-week lay-off from a calf injury.
Hannay knows the players were motivated to perform well for Fifita, who continues to recover in hospital and said “no doubt as a group they were all doing it a bit for ‘Drew’ out there today”.
The Sharks have overcome plenty of drama this year, including the sacking of coach John Morris, early departures of Chad Townsend and Shaun Johnson, and yet another COVID-19 breach featuring off-contract Josh Dugan.
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