Sport Roosters v Sharks: John Morris laments 'diabolical' last 20 minutes that cost Cronulla a much-needed victory
The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions: Round 5
The trend of big victories reached fever pitch in the NRL last weekend, but there could be more on the cards as Round 5 rolls around. The Roar’s NRL expert tipping panel are here to tell you who is winning what. With all of the first four games in Round 4 being one-way traffic, viewers will be hoping for a more competitive edge to start Round 5. Unfortunately, the Rabbitohs going up against the Broncos isn’t shaping up as that, with the Broncos competitive for about 20 minutes last week before being rolled by the Ryan Papenhuyzen show.
"Have you forgotten how to win those big games now, John?"
It was the question put to Cronulla Sharks coach John Morris moments after his side blew an 18-4 lead to the Sydney Roosters to lose 26-18 at the SCG on Saturday night.
The Sharks looked as though they were finally set to beat a top side after failing to do so in all of 2020.
It was a performance that deserved more after they were the better team for 60 minutes on Saturday.
However, a combination of lack of defensive discipline and a masterclass from second-gamer Sam Walker meant the Sharks left Moore Park with no competition points and a 2-3 record to start the season.
Walker makes mark in Roosters comeback win
Teenage halfback Sam Walker engineered an extraordinary comeback to help the Sydney Roosters to a 26-18 win over Cronulla.After the Roosters trailed 18-4 with just 19 minutes to play, Walker produced a seven-minute spell where he set up two tries and scored another to leave the Sharks stunned.
They also leave with more injury concerns after both captain Wade Graham and centre Josh Dugan suffered their second concussions of the season.
And Morris knows that based on the effort for the majority of the match, they should have come away with more.
"It’s disappointing," Morris said post-game.
"It’s not often you come up against a side like that, put a lot of work in and get to about the 62-minute mark, up 18-4 and then you blink and we’re down 26-18.
"It was a diabolical last 19 minutes for us and full credit to the Roosters, they taught us a lesson today of how to play for 80 minutes.
"We shouldn’t have been in that situation, we should have won that game of football."
Of particular concern for Morris was the defence of his right-edge that seemingly disappeared in the final 20 minutes.
John Morris hard done by amid reports Sharks are targeting Craig Fitzgibbon, says Michael Ennis
Morris comes off-contract at the end of the 2021 NRL season and appears certain to part company with the Sharks.According to News Corp Australia journalist Phil Rothfield , The Shire Club recently made an approach to Sydney Roosters assistant coach Craig Fitzgibbon.
Drew Hutchison, Daniel Tupou and Sam Walker all managed to cross over for four-pointers.
Morris refused to single out any players in particular but mentioned individuals who missed tackles and Cronulla halfback Chad Townsend would be disappointed with his efforts that saw both Hutchison and Walker crossover.
Oh WOW! Walker is ON!— NRL (@NRL)
"I just felt there were some poor individual misses on those tries and what led to the tries," Morris said.
"We invited them down our end with a couple of errors with good ball. We couldn’t amount any pressure at the start of the second half which gave them good field position.
"Our right-side conceded three pretty ordinary tries which hasn’t really been in our game this year.
"I’ve been really happy with our try line defence but, some guys missing tackles and you can’t do that against the Roosters.
Fitzgibbon agrees to coach Sharks in 2022
Sydney Roosters assistant coach Craig Fitzgibbon has all but agreed to coach the Cronulla Sharks in 2022. The Sydney Morning reports Fitzgibbon has notified the Roosters of his plans to take up the helm at Cronulla next season, pending a commitment from the Sharks in regards to his coaching staff.It is believed Fitzgibbon wants full autonomy over who will make up his support staff before putting pen to paper on a deal worth between $1.5m-$1.8m over three years.The former NSW star rejected the chance to coach St George Illawarra last year but he is off-contract this year and is tipped to go.
"Unfortunately, we have to learn the hard way today."
To the opening question of whether the Sharks have forgotten how to beat the big sides, Morris took a second to reflect.
His side had gotten close. It's not the first time they've gotten close either. They almost got over the Raiders in round two.
But he is confident in the work they have put in on the training field that a result is just around the corner, no matter how "cheap" their defence was on Saturday night.
"I wouldn’t say forgotten. It would be nice to close one out and get a feel for what that feels like," Morris said.
"We don't talk about it at all, you guys (media) talk about it. There are lots of other teams in the competition that have struggles beating the teams at the top.
"But we put the boys in situations like that at training all the time and we try and replicate playing from the front and playing from behind, trying to close a game out.
"We had a big focus today of not giving up any cheap points and unfortunately we gave up five tries that were all fairly cheap.
"Until we fix that, we’re going to be paying the same price."
Cronulla Sharks interim coach Josh Hannay looking to lean on Cowboys experience in NRL coaching 'audition' .
Josh Hannay has again been thrown in the deep-end, after the Sharks parted ways with John Morris earlier in the week in an ugly break-up. Morris chose to leave the club after they opted to sign Craig Fitzgibbon for 2022 and beyond, leaving Hannay to clean up the mess like he was forced to at the Cowboys last year. The 41-year old will have a huge job turning things around, and is fully aware of the situation he is inheriting between the club and playing group. “We’ve got to respect the situation and respect the feelings of every individual.