SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 14: Sharks captain Paul Gallen acknowledges fans after the NRL Elimination Final match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Cronulla Sharks at Lottoland on September 14, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Pre-Season Prediction: 6th

Actual Finish: 7th

Highlights

Young Talent Debuting: Injuries to key players meant that the Sharks were forced to debut young players, and it may ultimately prove a huge positive.

Briton Nikora, Hamlen Uele, Jack Williams, Will Kennedy, Blayke Brayley, Ronaldo Mulitalo and Xerri are all further along in their development than expected and will form the nucleus of the next era in the Shire.

Newtown NSW Cup Results: Those of us lucky enough to witness both last-minute wins for the Jets in championship games will see the future is bright for the Sharks.

Scott Sorenson is too good for NSW Cup, as is Billy Magoulious. Blayke Brailey is set for huge things. Jackson Ferris and young Trindall have won Flegg and NSW Cup trophies in 12 months.

Four players made the NSW Cup team of the year while Toby Rudolf was the competitions best player upon return from injury. Depth doesn’t look an issue here.

Those Games Where The Sharks Did Click: When the Sharks were good, they were REALLY good. Just ask the Eels, Bunnies, Warriors and Cowboys.

Wade Graham’s return from injury and left-handed partnership with Bronson Xerri saw the Sharks absolutely destroy the Eels.

The Sharks battered the Bunnies on a cook Saturday evening. They beat the Storm sans Johnson and Moylan.

The Sharks rated Fourth in tries scored, and third in line breaks. If only they could convert.

Low Lights

Conversion Catastrophe: It became the games biggest running gag that the Sharks would score more tries than their opposition yet still lose.

Shaun Johnson is a renowned sharpshooter. Chad Townsend has had seasons at the tee. Both kicked at diabolical percentages.

It legit got so bad that the Sharks were forced to carry young Kyle Flanagan on the bench to come on and convert if it got close. I wish I was kidding.

Pre-Season Debacle: Self-reported salary cap scandals, star players deciding to try their hand at NFL and a Premiership winning coach sacked for answering emails.

That was the Sharks off-season.

The Holmes situation hurt but ultimately lead to the signing of Johnson but the weeks and weeks of ridiculous headlines outlining the stupidity of former management made it impose to concentrate on footy matters.

Few will forget the awkward press conferences in the back room at Sharkies where obviously annoyed players were made to stand and smile for the cameras.

Blowing That 4 on 1 Overlap: There’s a special place in rugby league hell for this moment.

The Sharks, after putting in the worst team performance since the introduction of colour TV against the Bulldogs found themselves with a four on one overlap in the final minute.

Chad Townsend decided to kick to the only Dogs player in the postcode, ultimately costing his side victory.

If he passed, or ran, or even literally stood still and took the tackle the result and the Sharks season is very different.

Overpaid/Underperforming Stars: Shaun Johnson arrived with huge wraps and an even bigger contract.

Even the biggest fan of the superstar will admit he was below par for large chunks of the 2019 season.

There were highlights. His masterclass against the Tigers literally ended their season and kept the sharks season alive.

It just didn’t come nearly enough.

The same can be said for Moylan, Fifita, Woods and Townsend.

I hate to single players out but with monster contracts come huge expectations. That’s the nature of the game.

Star Player: Josh Dugan

Despite Chad Townsend winning the Sharks player of the year award, this looked a straight shootout between the starting centres.

For mine, Dugan edges Morris at the like due to having to play so many positions and doing so well.

Whether at centre, fullback or the wing, Dugan was electric all season.

11 tries in 23 games and an incredible 111 tackle breaks showed his attacking prowess but it was the difficult metres he made from the back that showed his value best.

Season Grading: C

In the pre-season, I said I was confident the Sharks would play finals but that there were too many questions to predict another top-four finish.

Fortunately for Sharks fans, they did play finals again, but unfortunately all the questions are still open now.

Can Moylan play fullback? Can Johnson find the key to consistent football?

The sharks unveiled generation next in the engine room and outside backs while enjoying an incredible return from injury from Wade Graham.

They also have arguably two of the most inconsistent creative players.

Overall, considering the preseason from hell, the ridiculous injury toll, rookie coach and other goings-on, finals footy is a pass.

Scarily, if the Sharks could convert from the tee they would have finished top four.

That’s not bad for a side who never really clicked in 2019.

That said, given their roster, missing finals would have been a disaster.

Pass mark … Barely!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Losing Holmes was a massive blow. As he could turn nothing into a long break & try.
    Moylan was swapped for Maloney a couple of years ago. Moylan was going to Win them another competition. He cost big money. To be fair , he did have some good games from fullback & set up quite a few tries. He also had some disasters of games & missed many games through injury.
    He’s no Holmes , as he’s pretty slow as a fullback & doesn’t always cover opposition attacking kicks well. Or cover tackle that well , with lack of pace. Moved to fullback, as he failed at 5/8th.
    How well is Cronulla set for fullbacks next year? Moylan or Kennedy…

  2. Considering the injuries they had, they exceeded my expectations. Very frustrating missing out on the top for due to their sh&thouse goalkicking though. Hopefully things will improve in 2020, ESPECIALLY IN GOALKICKING.

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