Wade Graham had the luck.
Wade Graham had the luck.

‘Hit my arm’: Controversy seals ‘debacle’

THE St George Illawarra Dragons will feel like they have been robbed after Cronulla Sharks second-rower Wade Graham admitted he touched the ball in the lead-up to what proved the match-winning try.

It sealed an 18-12 win for the Sharks to push Cronulla back into the top eight.

At 12-all, a bomb went up and was allowed to bounce with Graham seemingly taking an airswing at the ball - until television replays revealed he had touched the ball as it bounced.

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The ball clipped Graham's hand on the way through with Bronson Xerri then catching the ball and claiming the match-winning try in the 76th minute.

Post match, Xerri said he didn't think it hit Graham on the way through but the man himself wasn't about to tell a lie.

Graham admitted the game was a "bit of a debacle at times" but said the Sharks will claim the victory.

"Yeah, it hit my arm, I wasn't sure what the refs were going to do but they blew the try," he said.

"I wasn't about to go tell them I touched it. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don't."

Graham declared "I don't know if it went forward", asking "can refs rule on forward passes?"

He said it was the "barest of glances".

The victory sees Cronulla leapfrog Penrith into eighth spot with the two teams on 22 competition points but the Sharks boasting a better points differential.

While it was a tough loss for the Dragons, the side is well out of finals contention and the result would have meant little more than a consolation after a horrible season.

It was, however, a flimsy showing from John Morris' side three weeks out from the finals, completing just 68 per cent of their 40 sets.

And they did it against a Dragons side whittled down to 14 fit players for almost the final 20 minutes due to three concussions.

Another tough one in another tough season for the Dragons.
Another tough one in another tough season for the Dragons.

Paul McGregor had also used up all eight of his interchanges with 15 minutes left, but his men showed plenty of courage in pushing for an upset.

In a sour note for Cronulla, star fullback Matt Moylan limped off with a suspected knee injury midway through the second half.

The Dragons were down by six points for most of the second half when, after repeated sets in attack, makeshift halfback Luciano Leilua spun over to level the contest.

Xerri had a chance to settle the match in the 71st minute, but was denied by a remarkable one-on-one tackle by Dragons rake Cameron McInnes.

But, in front of a crowd of 13,652, the rookie centre made up for the miss with his last-gasp effort.

The signs were ominous for the Dragons from the moment Mikaele Ravalawa, who finished with five errors, dropped a Johnson kick in the third minute.

Costly errors early in the tackle count followed, and the Sharks made them pay with Aaron Woods and Sosaia Feki tries within three minutes.

A knockout blow went begging on the half-hour mark when Johnson fumbled a simple Xerri pass with the tryline in sight.

The Dragons reduced the lead to six at halftime after second-gamer Jackson Ford pounced on a Euan Aitken grubber that wrong-footed Moylan.