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Match Report - Round 19 2002

Sharks outshine Bill
By PAUL KENT - www.news.com.au, 22 Jul '02

It was, quite simply, stunning. Cronulla trailed 18-0 at halftime and then went on a bizarre 46-point scoring spree that, if it didn't set the record for second half comebacks, it surely gives it a tilt.

The massive second half fightback came as referee Bill Harrigan made his comeback to first grade rugby league yesterday – and in his own inimitable fashion managed to grab another fair share of the attention.

It happened in the 59th minute – shortly after the Sharks had grabbed the lead – when Jamie Goddard knocked on at dummy-half while stepping over Jason Stevens.

Harrigan whistled a penalty and Goddard reacted, throwing the ball at Stevens.

By then the Sharks roll had been set and Harrigan sin-binned him.

"We weren't in the ballpark with 12 men against a side like that," Eagles coach Peter Sharp said later.

Afterwards, Goddard went into Harrigan's dressing room to determine the nature of his discretion, unsure whether it was the verbal he gave Stevens or the ball that followed it.

Harrigan described the meeting as "amicable".

Sharp said he was disappointed with it, saying of Goddard's visit: "I'm not sure what was said and I'm not entirely sure he was in agreement with him but that's Bill isn't it – at the moment."

It was one of a number of crucial refereeing decisions that tipped the running against the Eagles – though it had started heading that way anyway.

The Eagles scored three long distance first half tries to lead 18-0 at the break, an effort that gave the 14,621 strong crowd every reason to continue their refound love affair with the Brookie-based team.

Despite the scoreline, though, Cronulla coach Chris Anderson was far from worried given the fact much of the football had been played where the Sharks wanted to play it.

All he was looking for after the break was better control, field position, the usual stuff. It didn't take long for things to begin to tip the Sharks' way.

A superb piece of opportunity came their way five minutes into the second period when hooker Dean Treister stretched for a try only to have the ball jolted loose by Brendan Reeves' knee.

Harrigan called for the video referee, with many looking to see whether Treister had lost control of it or whether Reeves had knocked it loose. That was what was eventually ruled, and then almost as an afterthought the video continued where it showed Danny Nutley picking it up and scoring, unopposed, as the rest of the players had stopped.

David Peachey scored three minutes later and then four minutes after that the Sharks got their second piece of fortune when Paul Franze lost the ball over his shoulder and had it ruled a knock back.

Several tackles later Peachey was over again, levelling the score at 18-18.

The highly unlikely was now looking not only likely, but was heading towards the Twilight Zone.

Two minutes later Nick Graham grubbered the ball off Menzies' leg, through John Hopoate's legs, and Matt Rieck scored in the corner.

Around here Goddard went for a break and it was lights out. For all intents, the Eagles were shot.

They had picked this day to launch their new Eagle Rock soundtrack, Marcia Hines was there to perform it, and soon enough the crowd started heading for the exits. Luckily they shot the video footage at the halftime break. Anderson was happy, saying, "It's a good thing, if you're down 18-0, to believe you're still in the game. That's a big thing."

The silent killer was the main determinant for success in the modern game: ball possession.

"It's hard to believe," Sharp said of the turnaround, "but in saying that we had two possessions in the first 16 minutes of the second half and we turned the ball over on play two and play three. We had 10 sets the entire second half which is not enough footy for our team to compete like that."

Cronulla Sharks: 46
Tries: Peachey 2,Rieck 2, Nutley, Bosnich, Graham, Beattie.
Goals: Kimmorley 7

Eagles: 24
Tries: King, Watmough, Creary, Miles.
Goals: Williamson 4

Referee: Bill Harrigan

Crowd: 14,521