Sharks slump to eighth straight loss - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sharks slump to eighth straight loss

By Steve Jancetic 16/05/2009 10:25:56 PM Comments (0)

Things continue to go from bad to worse for Cronulla.

The embattled wooden spoon favourites slumped to an eighth straight NRL loss, 26-22 to Penrith at CUA Stadium on Saturday night.

A nightmare week almost ended in fairytale fashion as the Sharks mounted a late challenge via two late Anthony Tupou tries to close the gap to just two points.

But Jarrod Sammut's boot proved the difference as both sides finished with four tries.

The Panthers put the result beyond doubt when Luke Lewis reeled in a Wade Graham bomb late in the contest, Penrith icing the game with skipper Petero Civoniceva in the sin bin for a professional foul.

It took all of seven minutes to see just why the Sharks are bottom of the ladder with the worst attack in the competition as they blew two golden opportunities to post first points.

Ben Pomeroy was the first to find the clear only for his infield kick to sail well over the dead ball line before Trent Barrett found space and then the touchline as he looked for Pomeroy in support.

When the Sharks managed to get it all together to set up a four-pointer in the 25th minute it became four points for the opposition.

Skipper Paul Gallen inexplicably passed to Panthers winger Geoff Daniela who couldn't believe his luck as he raced 40 metres to score.

The lucky break seemed to lift the Panthers from their slumber and their lead doubled two minutes later, Luke Walsh finding an opening his side of halfway before sending Paul Aiton in for a 12-0 lead.

With blood covering his face and jumper, Trent Barrett soldiered on, and it was just as well for the visitors with his 35th minute bomb to the corner handing Blake Ferguson his first top grade try.

Despite their shortcomings, Cronulla deserved to go into the break all square with an almost certain Bronx Goodwin runaway try called back for a marginal forward pass call.

Having done his best to destroy Barrett's face, Frank Pritchard turned his attention to the Sharks defensive line three minutes after the restart as he steamed over from 60 metres out, the 113kg backrower looking more like a centre as he stepped and dummied his way to the line.

Cronulla needed a spark and Blake Green stepped up with a 40-20, the replacement halfback undoing all his good work when he was set to the sin bin following a try saver on Lachlan Coote.

A Sammut penalty goal took the margin out to beyond two converted tries before the Sharks found life with Tupou going over in the 68th and 70th minutes to give the visitors some hope.

Following the turmoil of the Matthew Johns group sex saga, continuing financial uncertainty and the losing run, coach Ricky Stuart admitted he sought outside help to turn the club around.

"We work really hard every week but even more so this week about being in a positive frame of mind," Stuart said.

"I've had some people in talking to the boys.

"We've had an outstanding week around the adversity. The way they've handled themselves ... it's a credit to the players.

"All week we've had our heads down trying to concentrate on football - we were ready to play.

"We just had three individuals blunders which led to tries and, with respect to Penrith, they were very, very soft tries."

While the Panthers were far from their best, Civoniceva admitted the win was one they probably wouldn't have ground out a year ago.

"We played some pretty dumb football at times and gave them some opportunities that, had we executed a lot better, wouldn't have come about," he said.

"It's a little bit disappointing but two points are two points."

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