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Hynes shines in Sharks return to sink Dragons

Reigning Dally M Medal winner Nicho Hynes returned with a bang for the Sharks, as Cronulla savaged local rivals St George Illawarra with a dominant 40-8 win to close out Round 4. 

Hynes made his presence felt from the get go, but really let loose in the second half as the Sharks ran riot, outscoring the Dragons with seven tries to two in the match.

The Sharks didn't have the best start to the game, with their completion rate sitting at only 61 per cent at halftime and remarkably, the Dragons were leading 8-6 midway through the first half.

However, a diabolical second half, where they continually turned over the ball to gift their opposition possession meant they were held scoreless from the 25th minute of the game. 

There were plenty of highlights to choose from the Sharks who showed their attacking prowess, with their back three of William Kennedy, Ronaldo Mulitalo and Sione Katoa also contributing hugely to the outcome.

Despite a patchy opening few moments, the Sharks were the first on the board with a try that foreshadowed what was to come from Hynes.

Mulitalo grabs his second

The halfback showed his vision to throw a fantastic pass out to his left to hit in-form winger Mulitalo, who sprinted down their left side and let off a deft kick back inside for a chasing Kennedy, who ran in to score his fifth try of the season.

The Dragons then hit back soon after through their skipper and main attacking weapon Ben Hunt, who again tried hard for his team. The Queensland representative's try was all his own work, running the ball and feeding a dummy to the Sharks defenders who left him space to run over and score.

The Dragons then hit the front thanks to the weight of possession they were enjoying at the time, with Jaydn Su'A running in to put the home side in front. Dragons centre Zac Lomax missed both conversions which kept the scores tight.

While it made no difference in the end, Dragons fans were unhappy with the try that saw the Sharks initially go ahead, with some questioning if fullback Tyrell Sloan was impeded in his attempt to field a Hynes kick, which eventually ended up in the hands of Cronulla centre Jesse Ramien who touched the ball down for his first try of the night. 

While the Sharks lifted in the second half to showcase some great rugby league, including a seamless return of the smooth combination between Hynes and second rower Briton Nikora, it also highlighted a worrying trend for the Dragons who have fallen away dramatically in the second half two weeks in a row, despite working hard to get themselves in front early in matches.

The win was a return to form for the Sharks who had shown indifferent form to start the season to lift them to fifth on the ladder with two wins from their four games.

Match Snapshot

  • In his stunning return from a calf injury, Sharks halfback Nicho Hynes had a day out, producing five line break assists, four tackle breaks and three try assists.
  • Ronaldo Mulitalo and Jesse Ramien both scored doubles for the Sharks.
  • Cronulla had a dominant record against their opponents coming into the game and increased their tally to eight wins from nine outings against the Dragons, including the last six since 2020.
  • Prior to the game, the Dragons had won four of their past five games at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.

Katoa gets in on the fun

  • Coming into the match, the Sharks had won their past five games against the Dragons and increased their recent winning record with Round 4's dominant showing.
  • Sharks fullback William Kennedy had scored four tries in his past four games against the Dragons and added to his tally to increase it to five tries in five games. 
  • Dragons prop Francis Molo was making his 100th NRL appearance.
  • With Hynes rested to end the game, Siosifa Talakai stepped up to kick a 79th minute penalty goal to take their score to 40-8. Hynes kicked five from seven conversions for the match.
  • Jayden Sullivan was placed on report twice in the space of a minute for the Dragons.

Play of the Game 

While there may have been a question mark on his first try from Dragons fans, there was no doubt about the second from Jesse Ramien, who completed an exciting team try for the Sharks which started inside their own half and saw the side showcase their speed and passing to score.

It's a Sharks feeding frenzy

What They Said 

"It was disappointing, first half, we weren't quite there, I didn't think we were quite right but we got ourselves in the game, but in the second half, they were just way too good. We weren't good enough." - St George Illawarra Dragons coach Anthony Griffin

"As soon as we came out from the second half, we made an error straight away, they capitalised and to be honest, they were just too good for us. They ran harder and tackled harder." - St George Illawarra Dragons captain Ben Hunt

Dragons: Round 4

"I thought we were good in the first half to be honest, just got too excited, but obviously not the the completion rate, wasn't happy about that ... I could see the way they were trying to play, I could see us really connected with the ball. It's hard to keep up with Nicho sometimes, I thought it was a strong performance ... but I have to say his team-mates stepped up also." - Cronulla Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon

Sharks: Round 4

What's Next

Next Saturday afternoon, the Dragons will host the Dolphins at WIN Stadium in Wollongong. 

The Sharks will host fellow Round 4 winners the Warriors at PointsBet Stadium on Sunday afternoon. 

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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