A staunch Cronulla have ended Melbourne’s unbeaten start to the NRL season, knocking them from the top of the NRL table with a 14-6 win at Shark Park.
While both sides failed to get out of second gear in attack in a game of varying quality, the Sharks out-muscled the Storm on Monday night and put them off their game.
Sharks winger Valentine Holmes provided what proved to be the match-winning play three minutes after halftime, when he burst through the middle of the field and sent halfback Chad Townsend under the posts.
Storm winger Marika Koroibete, who had been good all night marking Holmes, was put on report when he stuck a knee out at Townsend, with James Maloney potting the penalty conversion to make it 14-6 in the 62nd minute.
The win was just the Sharks’ second over the Storm in their past 12 meetings, and was their second victory of the year.
Both sides looked ordinary in attack in an error-riddled affair, with Cronulla completing 33 of 44 sets and the Storm 28 of 37.
Melbourne would have counted themselves lucky to lead 6-4 at halftime after the Sharks failed to take advantage of Will Chambers’ sin-binning and blew numerous opportunities.
When Chambers was given 10 minutes in the sin bin for a professional foul on Holmes, the Sharks looked to have the momentum but failed to convert it into points.
Just as Chambers emerged from the sheds, Felise Kaufusi barged over to give Melbourne a 6-0 lead after 19 minutes.
The Storm were reduced to just three men on the bench when 18-year-old centre Curtis Scott, who was a late inclusion for Kevin Proctor, was taken from the field with a shin injury.
The Storm looked out of sync in attack, with their set plays breaking down numerous times as the Sharks grabbed a valuable two points.