Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan admitted to feeling a combination of relief and excitement after his side ended a run of 10 straight losses stretching back to July last year to beat the Sydney Roosters.
Inspired by rookie five-eighth Jack Bird, who scored two tries in only his second NRL game, the Sharks ran out 20-12 winners on Sunday to taste victory for the first time in 253 days.
Bird and 19-year-old fullback Valentine Holmes shone for the Sharks and Flanagan admitted he had a selection headache ahead of Friday’s clash with Newcastle with Ben Barba available again after suspension.
“I was really proud the way we defended and just hung in there,” Flanagan said.
“Birdy had a great game, scoring two tries. We knew he had it in him.
“When we put Birdy there, I knew he’d play well. I want that selection headache. That’s the challenge for me and I’m really happy to have it.”
Bird debuted against Gold Coast last week, coming off the bench and played in the centres, and Flanagan admitted it would be hard to move him out of the halves where he and Jeff Robson dominated the Roosters’ James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce.
“Birdy’s a footy player and he’ll play wherever we put him … but he did a really good job for us tonight,” he said.
Skipper Paul Gallen said he felt the result had been coming and claimed three of the team’s four defeats this season were self-inflicted.
“We just had to stick to the systems and the gameplan and we did that and, even when they scored that second try, you just have to go back to what you do well and that is to kick long and defend well,” Gallen said.
“I got the boys on the bus and said we have beaten ourselves in three of the four games.
“We’re not where we want to be – 0-4 is not good, but we dead set had beaten ourselves. It’s a step forwards.”
Roosters coach Trent Robinson admitted his side were off the pace and had no complaints about the loss.
“It was disappointing. Not about the start, we had to defend a lot and then we probably we weren’t on our game,” he said.
“They went set for set with us and the try with 10 (before) halftime to go was disappointing but to go in 4-0 down was a pretty good result considering how the possessions went. But it wasn’t our best game today.
“Credit to them – they fought well and didn’t do much apart from complete high and kick well when they needed to and it got them the win.”