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Sharks earn high praise for 'gritty' win

3 minute read

Winning ugly hasn't always come naturally for Cronulla but Craig Fitzgibbon is seeing signs that should set his side up for a deep push into the finals.

The hype around Craig Fitzgibbon's Cronulla side may have diminished in recent weeks but the Sharks coach has taken pleasure in how his team has kept winning, no matter how ugly.

Cronulla began the season in hot form, picking up five wins in their opening seven games by playing with an enthralling blend of power and panache.

The trick shots have been put away in recent times and they have picked up three straight victories through grit and will to strengthen their bid for a top-four berth.

Saturday's 18-6 win over Canterbury at a rain-soaked CommBank Stadium was case in point, given it was another hard-earned affair which should steel the Sharks for a push deep into September.

"It's hard to win pretty out there," Fitzgibbon said.

"We've definitely had periods where we are still figuring out that you don't have to win pretty.

"I think our early form was really powerful, and whether it's been conditions or execution we haven't been able to do more.

"We're not sitting there thinking we are killing it or going poorly. We're still figuring out how to play tough and win."

Fitzgibbon is hopeful prop Braden Hamlin-Uele isn't far off a return after tearing a pectoral muscle earlier in the year.

One of the positives to Fitzgibbon's first year has been his ability to get more out of Andrew Fifita, Wade Graham and Matt Moylan when they appeared to be on borrowed time at the club.

Fitzgibbon singled Moylan out for praise after thriving alongside Nicho Hynes in the halves.

"He (Moylan) is in a space where he cares and he invests himself," Fitzgibbon said.

"He's physically committed every week and it's like he never gets tired."

The Sharks host Melbourne next Thursday and will be keen to avenge an early-season defeat which Fitzgibbon said at the time was an indication of how high the bar was in the NRL.

"Ultimately they ran away with it in the second half and Cameron Munster put a clinic on us," he said.

"We physically committed that night and got into the contest and it'll be the same this week."

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