Derby loss to St George Illawarra was Cronulla Sharks' worst performance in a year: Shane Flanagan

Quiet night: Sharks star Valentine Holmes found it tough going in his return from a hamstring injury. Picture: John Veage
Quiet night: Sharks star Valentine Holmes found it tough going in his return from a hamstring injury. Picture: John Veage

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has labelled his side’s performance in their 16-10 local derby loss to St George Illawarra as their worst in a year.

The Sharks were poor for much of Sunday night’s clash at Southern Cross Group Stadium as the Dragons held on for a six-point victory to retain the Monty Porter Cup and bragging rights north of the Captain Cook Bridge.

The Sharks completed just 11 of 17 – or 65 per cent – of their sets in the first half. They also lacked discipline, with Cronulla on the wrong end of a 9-3 penalty count.

Flanagan was scathing in his post-match assessment.

“It’s our worst performance [since] round three last year when we played Manly over there at Brookvale,” he said. 

“[We gave them] five seven-tackle sets. We kicked out on the full. We took all the energy out of us in the first half by poor execution… [it’s] just not good enough. We were coming home to get them [but] we spent too much in the first half.

“We had our momentum and then we gave penalties away at the end of our set. We got to our kick and then gave penalties away and marched them up the field a couple of times. [We gave away] penalties in possession. It’s not good enough.”

Cronulla were also on the wrong side of two incidents in the first half. Firstly, when Dragons fullback Josh Dugan was not removed from the field for a concussion test despite laying prone after copping an elbow from teammate Russell Packer. And secondly, when halfback Chad Townsend was denied what looked to be a try for a forward pass.

Flanagan appeared unhappy with the performance of referee Ben Cummins but did not offer up any excuses for his side.

“In the end we were our own worst enemy. We played poorly, kicked poorly, missed too many tackles. It was our worst performance in 12 months,” he said.

“It is [frustrating]. Penalties in possession kill you. We defended those sets [and at] four points behind I thought we were coming home to get them. They made one line break, scored a try off a kick and one off a dropped ball from us. In the end they made the best of their opportunities.” 

Sharks captain Paul Gallen was left frustrated with the result.

“I felt on the field that we were really coming home. [But] every time we had them on the rack we let them off,” he said. 

Cronulla welcomed back Valentine Holmes from a hamstring injury, though he had to make do with a place on the wing as Jack Bird retained the No.1 jersey.

The Sharks face Parramatta at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.