Almanac Rugby League – NRL Round 20: Cronulla v Newcastle – Sunday stroll

Cronulla Sharks 36 Newcastle Knights 4

2:00 pm, Sunday 24th July

Shark Park, Sydney

Paul Macadam


Well that was nice, wasn’t it? Nice to not have to yell for a change. Wouldn’t mind if every home game was so comfortable, but then I’d be perilously close to becoming a balanced, level-headed fan. First half was mostly abject, last 15 of the second was sloppy, the 25 or 30 minutes of good play in between proved enough to trounce a Newcastle side destroyed by injuries, and devoid of belief. Not gonna bother going through the eight tries and dubious goalkicking. Was one of those where the match highlights really do tell the full story.  I’m taking a longer view here.

Sorry I’ve dropped off the radar lately. Couldn’t make the Warriors game. Was deliriously exhausted the day of the Parramatta match, and slept from five til midnight. Took all week to learn the result, but Antony Green eventually declared a victory for the Sharks. Went out to Penrith for the 13th in a row, but got all tangled up trying to document the match. A win without Maloney, Fifita, Graham, Bird, and Gallen. Sat one row away from Sene-Lefao’s family; cries of “GO JESSE!” any time he did anything; before long I was joining in. Didn’t get home til nearly 9, but a day I’ll always remember.

Watched last week’s win over the Roosters on replay, due to a combination of work, and personal admin. I’m moving back to Kareela for a bit. Gonna try again in a couple of months once I’ve cleared my head of disillusionment. You have to live awhile in Enmore to realise that its putative convenience is a myth. Last Sunday at the Record Crate, R suggested that it’s just another kind of shire, and she’s not wrong. Most sharehouses are alike. Finding the right suburb for you is the real battle. If nothing else, I’ll miss being walking distance from good pizza. And the Sharks were unbeaten the whole time I spent in Enmore, so it wasn’t all bad.

With six weeks of the regular season left, Cronulla are one win clear of 2nd-placed Melbourne, and four above North Queensland in 3rd. While three of the last four matches are away from home, only the Storm in round 26 will necessitate a performance of full semi-final intensity. It’s an ideal rehearsal for September. You’ll have to beat them at some point during that month, and might as well have a practice run. The 1999 season was hampered by a soft run-in, where the Sharks went all of August without facing a top 8 side. A 42-20 win over Brisbane carried the asterisks mark of facing a Broncos lineup burned out by effectively playing sudden-death football for three months straight. A fortnight on, Cronulla led 8-0 at the break, Anthony Mundine chose that day of all days to play the match of his life, the Dragons advanced to the grand final, the Sharks did not. Obviously I got over it a long time ago. Yep. Anyway. Point is that what remains of the fixture list isn’t as disastrous as first appeared.

This run of victories – now at 15 – is capturing hearts all over the place, at least to the extent that Australia’s second-team-support loophole allows. Supporters of all clubs bar Manly and St. George are sending messages of goodwill to Cronulla’s Facebook page. And with standard darlings Souths and Easts on the ladder’s lower rungs, a Sydney-centric footy media has decided it wants Cronulla to win the premiership. (Which is funny, since this same footy media broadly wanted the Sharks to relocate to Perth only three years ago). The world isn’t exactly against us, so a triumph-via-spite in the Bellamy / Mourinho mould won’t be possible.

You want motivation? Forget the ASADA saga. Forget “doing it for Gal”; a dangerous conceit, as the miserable end to Steven Gerrard’s final season at Liverpool showed. Focus on being the first. Not on the pressure stemming from 50 years of pain, but on the opportunity to end it. To end that, and start something new. Be part of the first Cronulla team to win a premiership. The year is 2066 and the Sharks have now won ten. Why not? Tell me why not. And if you manage to pull this off, you can tell the grandkids. Focus on that.

Cronulla Sharks 36 (Jack Bird 2, Ben Barba 2, Valentine Holmes 2, Sosaia Feki, Gerard Beale tries, Chad Townsend 2 goals) defeated Newcastle Knights 4 (Nathan Ross try). Crowd: 16 882.


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About Paul Macadam

Songwriter under my own name, drummer for Library Siesta. Newly ecstatic Cronulla tragic who also loves Liverpool because life wasn't meant to be easy. Too slow for the wing, too skinny for the second row.


  1. andy frame says

    Good work again Paul. A somewhat chequered performance by the black, white and blue as you clearly alluded to, but the Knights are not travelling at all well, so enough was done to get that 15th win on the spin.
    Now the BIG question.
    Do we need a loss before the finals to, ahh, ‘refocus’?

  2. Thanks Andy! While there is such a thing as peaking too early in a season, I think the need-to-lose thing is a myth. I’ve heard Manly 1995 be cited by pundits as an example of why you need to lose one (a flawed example, because that Manly side lost two regular season games *after* its 15-match winning run, and still fell short). It might even go back to the late 80s, where in consecutive seasons, minor premiers Cronulla and Souths failed to even make the grand final. The Bulldogs of 2012 had their 12-match streak ended in round 25, and that ultimately didn’t help them on the big day.

    Law of averages says we’ll lose one – maybe two or three, though I hope not – before September. Think we’ll beat Gold Coast to make it 16, but Canberra might catch us unawares.

  3. In other words, “you will probably lose one” gets misconstrued as “you NEED to lose one”. And it wouldn’t exactly be disastrous if we won the last 6 :)

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