Paul Gallen inspired his Cronulla Sharks team-mates to a thrilling 9-8 victory today at Southern Cross Group Stadium against a Canterbury Bulldogs team handicapped by an injury to captain James Graham, who left the field with nerve damage in his right arm after 20 minutes and didn’t return.
In front of a record Cronulla home crowd of 20,497 Gallen produced two pieces of magic in the final 15 minutes.
First of all, on 65 minutes he somehow got out of his own in-goal and created the position ffrom which Gerard Beale broke through a tackle attempt from Josh Morris to race 70 metres to score next to the posts.
Then, with three minutes to go, Gallen burst through the Bulldogs’ defence to create the position for halfback Chad Townsend to kick the winning field-goal from 25 metres out.
In the first half the Sharks had taken an early lead with a Valentine Holmes penalty, but Brenko Lee touched down to give the Bulldogs the lead in the 26th minute with a converted try.
Kerrod Holland extended their lead to six points with a penalty goal in the second half, and they could have extended their lead but for some crucial errors at critical times, and they were unable to extend their lead to two scores, before Gallen stepped up to lead his side to victory.
Sharks: 1 Valentine Holmes, 2 Sosaia Feki, 3 Gerard Beale, 4 Ricky Leutele, 5 Edrick Lee, 6 Fa’amanu Brown, 7 Chad Townsend, 8 Chris Heighington, 9 Jayden Brailey, 10 Matt Prior, 11 Luke Lewis, 12 Kurt Capewell, 13 Paul Gallen (c); Interchange: 14 Jayson Bukuya, 15 Sam Tagataese, 16 Jeremy Latimore, 17 Joseph Paulo.
Bulldogs: 1 Will Hopoate, 2 Marcelo Montoya, 3 Josh Morris, 4 Brenko Lee, 5 Kerrod Holland, 6 Matt Frawley, 7 Moses Mbye, 8 Aiden Tolman, 9 Michael Lichaa, 10 James Graham (c), 11 Greg Eastwood, 12 Adam Elliot, 13 Danny Fualalo; Interchange: 14 Sam Kasiano, 15 Asipeli Fine, 16 Francis Tualau, 17 Craig Garvey.
Full coverage of all the weekend’s NRL matches can be found in Monday’s issue of League Express