LAST week’s grand final rematch saw no love lost between the Melbourne Storm and the Cronulla Sharks.
The round six clash was soon thrown into chaos after the halftime break when Will Chambers allegedly called Sharks forwards Paul Gallen and Wade Graham “drug cheats”.
The sledge provoked Graham to take a swing at Chambers, sparking a heated back-and-forth between the home side and the Sharks skipper.
“We don’t like each other — it’s no secret,” Gallen said of his Melbourne opponents after the match.
“We both ripped into each other … It was real physical, we knew it was going to be like that.”
The brutal jab at the Sharks unit was one thing. But as far as sledging on the footy field goes, it’s hard to beat Gorden Tallis for sheer brutality.
Former NRL star and commentator Matty Johns recalled what could possibly be Tallis’ most brutal sledge on the field on Triple M’s Grill Team while discussing the Gallen incident.
Johns was speaking about a particularly savage moment from the former Broncos forward in a match against the Melbourne Storm. Tallis, not known for letting his thoughts boil up inside him, was having a particularly harsh go at the Storm’s Rodney Howe who was returning from a 22-match drug ban after being caught using stanozolol.
“Howie got caught and made his comeback game against the Brisbane Broncos. He was up against Gordie,” Johns said.
“Gordie is as stubborn as a mule and unforgiving. He just hammered him all game saying ‘you are a drug cheat’ and ‘go and stick a needle in your backside’.
“Howie was in tears after the game. When someone went into the club and asked Gorden for an apology, he said no.”
Cronulla climbed to third on the NRL ladder after a tense 11-2 victory over the Melbourne Storm at a wet AAMI Park last week.
The defending premiers relied on tough defence to outlast the Storm in a rematch of the 2016 grand final in the tricky conditions.
The Sharks let an error-prone Melbourne off the hook in the opening half by failing to capitalise on a number of scoring opportunities but finished over the top of the home side with 11 unanswered points in the second half. James Maloney kicked a field goal in the 70th minute to break a two-all deadlock before James Segeyaro swooped on a kick that was mishandled by Billy Slater to touch down under the posts and seal the result.
The Sharks have now won three straight matches, ending the Storm’s unbeaten opening to the season in the process.
Coach Shane Flanagan was pleased to see his side grind out the win in tough conditions.
“We have been looking for that performance for six weeks,” Flanagan said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the way the players performed. We weren’t perfect but it was an outstanding effort.”
The visitors handled the slippery conditions better than the hosts in the opening ten minutes with the Storm coughing up possession three times in the Sharks’ half.
A Melbourne handling error close to their own line looked to gift the Sharks the opening try but the play was called back for a differential penalty against Cronulla at the scrum.
It took some Cooper Cronk brilliance to set up Melbourne’s first scoring opportunity with a 40-20 putting the Storm deep in Sharks territory. A high tackle from James Maloney on Billy Slater subsequently allowed Cameron Smith to kick the opening points of the match.
A Suliasi Vunivalu error near the Storm line handed then handed Cronulla another golden opportunity to score but Jack Bird’s final pass to Gerard Beale floated forward with the winger on a clear path to the line.
The Storm made a strong opening to the second half with Slater’s long run and a spilt high ball from Valentine Holmes putting the Sharks on the back foot. Gritty defence from the Sharks held out the home side and another error from the Storm allowed Maloney to level the scores with a penalty goal in the 56th minute.
The Storm pressured the Sharks’ line but could not find the target with their kicking game, allowing the Sharks to claim victory in the final ten minutes. “I just thought we got what we deserved,” Storm coach Craig Bellamy said. “We built pressure on ourselves and then the last twenty minutes, they built pressure on us. We were just under pressure the whole game.”
— with AAP
SOURCE: newsnow sport