Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon has admitted he would take “a while” if he had to discuss the “hard calls” his side were on the wrong side of in their 30-26 loss to Manly.
The Sharks were blown off the park in the first half, trailing 24-0 at halftime, and while Fitzgibbon said his side’s defence has to be fixed, there were a number of refereeing decisions he didn’t agree with.
“I don’t usually complain about officials but I have to talk to someone during the week because I’m not sure what was going on there,” Fitzgibbon said in his post match press conference.
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“If I start raising which issues I thought were hard calls, we’ll be here for a while.”
Fitzgibbon pointed to an incident in the first half when star playmaker Nicho Hynes was placed on report.
“I thought it might have been Nicho when he stumbled and stuck a leg out off his back. I didn’t think there was anything significant in that,” Fitzgibbon said.
Hynes was involved with another 50/50 call later in the game as the Sharks were in the midst of a remarkable comeback.
The 2022 Dally M medallist threw a cut-out pass to his winger Sione Katoa, who would have scored had the touch judge not called the pass forward.
It was a decision which angered the normally mild-mannered Hynes, who was warned by referee Peter Gough for remonstrating (video below).
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Nice guy Hynes CRAZY ref spray | 00:46
The Sharks almost pulled off a remarkable comeback after trailing 30-0, scoring 26 points in the second half to bring the margin back to four points.
Fitzgibbon believes the slow start and sluggish nature in defence is an “attitude” thing.
“It’s the flat energy. You are on the back foot, they are running their plays and it’s hard to defend,” Fitzgibbon said.
“You turn up in the second half, come off your line a bit harder, tackle a bit harder and then you control the energy better.
“We had a new left edge and obviously the combination needs more work.”
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The loss is the second in a row for the Sharks, with that Manly result dropping them to sixth on the ladder. Two weeks ago they were sitting comfortably in the top four.
Despite the two losses and the tough draw that awaits the Sharks, their coach thinks the recent criticism and doubt could galvanise his side.
“It’s still ahead of us, we aren’t out of it,” Fitzgibbon said.
“Everyone will be quick to tell us we are (out of it) so that will be a good challenge.”
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