Canterbury have refused to blame the whistleblowers for their controversial 18-16 NRL loss to Cronulla on Sunday, despite having to relive memories of `Bad Friday’.
The Sharks’ top eight aspirations received a massive boost after a Valentine Holmes penalty sealed the win in front of 19,005 at Belmore Sports Ground.
With the Sharks leading 16-10 with six minutes on the clock, they received a shot at goal directly in front after Josh Reynolds was put on report for a late hit on Holmes as he took a late attempt at a field goal.
The conclusion of the match was eerily similar to that of the Bulldogs’ loss to South Sydney on Good Friday which sparked wild scenes.
It was an important victory in the context of the Sharks’ season as they jumped into sixth, four points clear of ninth-placed Canberra, and managed to shake off the Andrew Fifita drama.
The Bulldogs gave themselves a sniff with a late Michael Lichaa try but ultimately paid for their poor discipline.
They completed just 17 of 37 sets, made 18 handling errors and were on the end of a 13-8 penalty count. They also botched several opportunities, having three tries disallowed.
“We’re really disappointed. Actually, filthy,” Bulldogs coach Hasler said.
Hasler said all of the decisions on their disallowed tries were correct and had no problem with the call to penalise Reynolds for his hit on Holmes.
“It’s going to be hard to argue … It doesn’t matter, we had the game won in other areas and should have had the game put away instead of blaming it on a charge down,” Hasler said.
After he was accused of abusing a junior referee at a game in Penrith on Saturday, Fifita looked like he had his mind elsewhere.
In the first 20 minutes, he came with a handling error and gave away three penalties, the last of which led directly to a Josh Morris try which evened up the scores.
Holmes proved the match-winner for the second week in a row – scoring what was ultimately the decisive try when he came up with an eye-catching put-down on a Michael Ennis kick.
Ennis had a day to remember setting up two tries against his former club in a well-rounded performance.
Scores were locked at 6-6 at halftime before Ennis imposed himself on the game, throwing a lovely ball for workaholic captain Paul Gallen and putting in an inch-perfect kick for Holmes.
“(Wins) are all important at this stage of the year,” Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan said.
“The Dragons are (four points) behind us, they’ll be itching. Some of those other teams on 18 (points) have all got a chance.
“We’ve just got to keep concentrating on Cronulla … We need to be in control of our own destiny at the end of the year.”
Veteran Sharks back-rower Luke Lewis is expected to miss two weeks after he was diagnosed with a medial ligament strain in his knee.