Cronulla’s hopes of reaching the finals are in their own hands after beating Brisbane Broncos 24-16 to consolidate their spot in the top eight for another week at least.
The Sharks will go into the final round level on 22 points with Canberra – and with a much better points difference – but have the difficult task of needing to overcome league leaders Melbourne Storm to be assured of reaching the finals.
However, they can now start daring to dream of that after their hard-fought win over a brave Broncos side at Suncorp Stadium put them within touching distance of a top-eight finish. However, if they’re to do anything when they get there, they’ll need to be more clinical than on Saturday night against a Brisbane side that had two players sin-binned.
“We weren’t great tonight but we knew we had to be great with our attitude and I thought our attitude was spot-on tonight,” Sharks coach Josh Hannay said. “We’ve had our injuries, there’s been plenty of upheaval at the club. I think we have had to deal with a lot this year, so I believe we deserve to get [to the finals].”
The Sharks will also be sweating on the judiciary with Jesse Ramien put on report for a swinging arm on Brisbane’s Herbie Farnworth that could see him miss next week.
The Sharks drew first blood through Sione Katoa, whose trademark acrobatic finish in the corner gave Cronulla a 4-0 lead in the opening minutes.
However, it did anything but set the scene of what was to come. From then, the Broncos dictated terms and drew level shortly after through Xavier Coates. The Broncos winger won the aerial battle to take an Albert Kelly bomb into the corner and ground the ball to square the ledger.
Midway through the first half, Brisbane snatched the lead. Promising youngster Tesi Niu bamboozled the Sharks’ defence with a clever step off his left foot that opened enough space for the fullback to score between the posts.