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Sharks' NRL slide continues against Souths

AAP logoAAP 22/08/2016 By James MacSmith

Cronulla's late-season slump has continued with a 12-6 loss to a Cody Walker-inspired South Sydney at ANZ Stadium.

Walker starred for the Rabbitohs on Monday night alongside Sam Burgess and Nathan Brown as they handed the Sharks their third successive loss, and made their winning streak of 15 a distant memory.

Missing captain Paul Gallen to a calf injury, the Sharks looked sluggish for much of the contest on a cold and wet night.

In the absence of Adam Reynolds, who left the field with a concussion in the 26th minute, Walker led the Rabbitohs with aplomb and scored one of their two tries.

An 80th-minute try by Joe Burgess sealed the Rabbitohs' seventh win of the season, with the winger and Brown leading the way for the home side up front.

James Maloney and Wade Graham tried hard to spark the Sharks in the second half, but the visitors lacked execution and composure as they pressed for a come-from-behind win.

The duo combined for Cronulla's only try in the 53rd minute.

Souths five-eighth Walker scored the only try of the first half when he dashed under the posts from close range in the 33rd minute.

A Damien Cook penalty after the halftime siren gave Souths an 8-0 lead at the break.

Before only 7,588 fans - showing why this is the second-last Monday night game ever - the arm wrestle continued for much of the bruising second half.

Cronulla sit in second place after 24 rounds, a point above third-placed Canberra and need to win their final games against Sydney Roosters and Melbourne to confirm a top-two finish.

Maloney could be in judiciary trouble for two high tackles late in the game.

The Sharks' winning streak ended in July with a draw against Gold Coast.

Coach Shane Flanagan said the Sharks still had time to rediscover their form before the start of the finals.

"The boys tried hard and defended well," he said.

"If the effort stays there we can turn this around. When we get to the semi-finals and we get Gal back and we get Sosaia Feki back all this will be forgotten.

"We just need to get a couple of wins on the way home.

"We are trying hard but it is just not happening for us.

"That (slump) period is now. If the effort wasn't there I would be worried. But I'm not."

The Rabbitohs have enjoyed a late-season resurgence after their finals hopes were dashed.

Coach Michael Maguire could only wonder what could have been after an eight-match losing streak sank the Rabbitohs premiership hopes.

"I am really pleased for the players, we showed that character we have been looking for, for some time. The motivation was really there," he said.

"It is unfortunate we put ourselves in the situation we are.

"There are all sorts of different reason for that but the last last three weeks the boys have shown what they are capable of.

"Cronulla had a lot to play for and they threw a lot at us."

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