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Dog of a day for faithful

By Dean Richie

27 July 2015 - The Daily Telegraph

Hasler filthy after a bumbling performance from his side puts them in danger of missing the playoffs.

CANTERBURY coach Des Hasler was left "filthy" at his side's bumbling performance yesterday as Cronulla ruined the Bulldogs' emotional Sunday afternoon return to their spiritual home.

The Bulldogs fumbled their way through 80 frustrating minutes to hand-deliver Cronulla a valuable 18-16 win before 19,005 disappointed Bulldogs fans at Belmore Sports Ground .

Both sides were poor yesterday. Together, they completed just 41 of their combined 78 sets, made 33 handling errors and missed 46 tackles.

But the desperate Sharks put the Fifita brothers' referee abuse scandal behind them to score a crucial win and leapfrog the Bulldogs into sixth place on the NRL ladder.

While the Sharks moved to within two points of the all-important top four, the Bulldogs now face a battle just to make the eight and take on the white-hot Sydney Roosters this Friday night.

"We are really disappointed, probably filthy the way we played and how we went about it," Hasler said.

"We really lost that game, which is disappointing with the fans and everybody turning up. They deserved a bit better than what we served up today. Those are the cold, hard facts, that's the truth.

"We were pretty sloppy, we didn't execute well, possession was hard to find out there, neither side wanted possession.

"It's nowhere near what we can do and what we're capable of. "Even a 14-6 penalty count that went against us, we still came up with three disallowed tries and you'll find each decision was correct. That's just execution again.

"As far as a game of footy goes, it was pretty poor from both sides. Good luck to Cronulla, they walk away with a valuable two points." The decisive penalty came in the 75th minute when Sharks winger Valentine Holmes attempted a field goal which would have given his side a 17-10 lead.

Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds flew out of the line, jumped and collected Holmes after he sprayed his kick wide. But Cronulla were awarded a penalty right in front which Holmes kicked for a match-winning 18-10 lead.

Canterbury skipper James Graham's animated protests to the referee revived memories of the ill-fated Good Friday game. Graham eventually accepted the decision and, at full-time, actually ran 30 metres to shake hands with all match officials.

"The ref just gave it -- I was just trying to plead a little bit of a case," Graham said.

Reynolds added: "He was going for a field goal, I was going in a hundred miles an hour." The match was a triumphant return to Belmore for former Bulldog and now Sharks hooker Michael Ennis, who set up two tries, niggled, sledged and generally annoyed his old team.

After the game though, many Canterbury fans stayed around to clap Ennis from the field. It was a nice touch.

"I thought he was outstanding," coach Shane Flanagan said. "He put 'Gal' (Paul Gallen) over for a try and then kicked for a try. Some of his defence, playing 80 minutes against his old club is super. He was a bit on edge all week. He was talking about his opposition.

"He loves Canterbury, the club holds a real special place in his heart." Cronulla have now won three straight and are thundering head-first towards the semi-finals.

SHARKS 18 BULLDOGS 16 SHARKS Tries: P Gallen M Gordon V Holmes Goals: V Holmes 2 M Gordon BULLDOGS Tries: M Lichaa J Morris F Pritchard Goals: T Hodkinson 2



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