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.
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.