Sport Roosters v Sharks: John Morris laments 'diabolical' last 20 minutes that cost Cronulla a much-needed victory

16:26  10 april  2021
16:26  10 april  2021 Source:   sportingnews.com

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"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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

"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.

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"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.

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This is interesting!