Thursday, 14 February 2013

Season Review - Cronulla Sharks (2012)

Cronulla had endured three years in the finals wilderness, languishing at the wrong end of the table, suffering from a mass of bad publicity, controversies and financial woes, all of which hounded the club. 2012 saw the Cronulla club, in every aspect of operations overcome all of these and rise up against the overwhelming odds stacked against them.

Their development plan, which was the last saviour for the club, was approved giving them something they’ve rarely ever had in their entire history, financial stability and security.

This coupled with a very astute coach and some of most impressive off-season purchases, has seen an air of positivity, enjoyment and most importantly, a belief that they can succeed.

Cronulla didn’t fluke their way into the finals either. Many would argue they were on the wrong end of the stick on most 50/50 calls during the year. But through all of that they were much more consistent, never falling lower than 7th on the ladder after Round 5.

Their run home was unimpressive, winning just 2 of their last 9 games, before going down in the first week of the finals to a resurgent Canberra side who were playing at home.

At the start of the year, the Sharks were long outsiders to make the finals. But by seasons end, they had proved they were good enough to make the finals and that they are still improving.

With key signings next year to help add speed and creativity to the backline, the boys from the Shire look set to build on an impressive return to finals footy with a combination of tough and gritty forwards and smart, skilful and speedy backs. A dangerous combination indeed.

Signings for 2012: Todd Carney (Roosters), Isaac DeGois (Newcastle), Andrew Fifita (Wests Tigers), Bryce Gibbs (Wests Tigers), Jon Green (Dragons), Jeff Robson (Parramatta), Ben Ross (Souths), Mark Taufua (Newcastle)

Losses for 2012: Paul Aiton (Wakefield Trinity), Dean Collis (Wakefield Trinity), Luke Douglas (Gold Coast Titans), Albert Kelly (Newcastle – mid season), Tim Smith (Wakefield Trinity), Kade Snowden (Newcastle), Taulima Tautai (Parramatta), Siosaia Vave (Melbourne)

Turning Point: State of Origin 3. The Sharks sat at third on the ladder when the third state of Origin was played, but after the series ended they had a draw, 2 wins and 6 losses which saw them drop down to seventh on the ladder and lose their chance of a home final. Up to this point, some pundits were wondering if maybe, just maybe, the Sharks could make the Grand Final in 2012.

The Good: The Sharks had a few good aspects about them in 2012. They learnt to win without Paul Gallen. Todd Carney was focussed on football again. The club looked confident and believed they could win, which in previous years had been non-existent. Forwards, Bryce Gibbs, Jeremy Smith, Wade Graham, Paul Gallen, Andrew Fifita and Jason Bukuya all played above and beyond their efforts from the previous year. While in the backs Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Ben Pomeroy and Colin Best all played well. Matthew Wright was also surprisingly very solid as a replacement fullback for the injured Nathan Gardner for the majority of the year.

The Bad: Golden Point. The Sharks in Golden Point still look as if they are a defeated unit. They need to close out these tight games if they are going to become a serious contender. The more they improve the more close games they will encounter.

Disappointing Players: Given the injury toll the club suffered throughout the year, it’s actually quite difficult to single out any players who were disappointing on a regular basis. Some players would have a bad game but redeem themselves in spades the following week. Cronulla’s ability to stay in the finals hunt for 21 of the 26 rounds shows that everyone was playing well.

Rookies: There were no players making their NRL debut at the Sharks in 2012, but there is a raft of very talented juniors waiting in the wings for a chance in first grade, which further improves the depth at the club. Michael Lichaa and Luke Pickerd in particular look to be future NRL stars for the club, alongside Chad Townsend, Stewart Mills and Wade Graham.

Chances in 2013: The Sharks will reach the finals again in 2013. Given the success of 2012, next season will see the Sharks setting themselves up for a crack at the title in 2014, but it certainly won’t be beyond them to make the grand final in 2013. With some more new faces and players wanting to be at the club, 2013 is an exciting time for Sharkies fans.

2013 Gains: Michael Gordon (Penrith), Chris Heighington (Wests Tigers), Luke Lewis (Penrith), Beau Ryan (Wests Tigers), Jonathan Wright (Canterbury)

2013 Losses: Colin Best (retired), Tyson Frizell (Dragons), Jeremy Smith (Newcastle)

2013 Best Line-up:
1 – Michael Gordon 2 – Beau Ryan 3 – Ben Pomeroy 4 – Jonathan Wright 5 – Stewart Mills 6 – Todd Carney 7 – Jeff Robson 8 – Bryce Gibbs 9 – Isaac DeGois 10 – Ben Ross 11 – Luke Lewis 12 – Paul Gallen (c) 13 – Wade Graham
Interchange: 14 – Chris Heighington 15 – Andrew Fifita 16 – Jason Bukuya 17 – John Morris

****This article appeared on****

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.