Nicho Hynes endured a horror drop-goal ending to the Sharks' 13-12 loss to the Roosters on Saturday night and a call earlier in the game could come back to haunt them. Sam Walker was the man to step up and slot the Roosters' winning field goal at Shark Park to send Cronulla crashing out of the NRL finals.
Hynes had two opportunities from 25 metres out to slot the field-goal to level the game, but both attempts were charged down. And the Sharks have come under fire for their decision-making during the contest when Roosters captain James Tedesco was sitting in the sin-bin.
The captain received 10 minutes on the sideline when Hynes targeted Tedesco in the ruck when he wasn't square on a Sharks break. However, eighth minutes later with the Sharks leading 10-6 and Tedesco still in the bin for another 90 seconds, Cronulla opted to take a simple two points from a penalty in front of goal in Saturday's elimination final.
It gave Cronulla a 12-6 lead, but allowed the Roosters to regroup with Tedesco back on the field when play resumed. The Roosters then levelled the score through a try off a rebounded grubberkick later in the second half, before Walker kicked them to a 13-12 victory.
And Fox Sports commentator Greg Alexander believes captain Wade Graham and the Sharks could come to rue the decision to go for goal when the Roosters were on the ropes.
“We’ll never know if they would have scored a try,” Alexander said. “Looking back, if I was the Sharks side I wouldn’t sleep for nights thinking about that decision.
“Did we do the right thing? Did we have them on the rack?”
Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon laments tough call
Coach Craig Fitzgibbon admitted the coaching staff were all divided in the box over what call to make when Graham stepped up. "We were debating it in the box, but Tedesco only had about 50 seconds left or something like that," Fitzgibbon said.
"So if it ends up a scrap there and you don't get points, he's straight back on to get them out of trouble there. Wade's right - a converted try ahead in what was looking like a real slugfest should have been enough."
Nicho Hynes under fire for drop goal attempts
Hynes has also come under fire for his two attempts at goal in the 77th minute. The Sharks received a penalty and were carried down the ground. And 25 metres out on the fourth tackle, Hynes attempted a field goal only to be charged down by Tedesco.
The Sharks regathered the ball and had another five tackles. Hynes went for another attempt in a similar position on the fourth again, but was this time charged down by Luke Keary. The Roosters duo proved huge in the big moment to squash Hynes' field goal attempts.
While Hynes didn't receive a clean pass on the second attempt for the field goal, Sharks fans could be left frustrated he didn't pull the trigger sooner with the on-rushing defence. Some fans took aim at Hynes for not stepping up when it mattered most, while others felt the halfback had an overall solid game in a struggling Sharks outfit.
Don't know how sharks lost that one. The roosters held on in the end even with all their injuries and teddy sinbin. Pretty sure cam McInnes scored in the first half.
— Silent_D (@Asian_Darkness) September 9, 2023
Nicho Hynes played a near perfect role of Casper in the championship minutes tonight. #fraudwatch
— jeezy (@poincore) September 9, 2023
— 50ShadesofJay (@JayJayK75) September 9, 2023
If mitchell moses had the finals performances that nicho hynes has had, i wouldnt hear the end of it
Hes not that guy
— Alex Moses (@Alex_AMS96) September 9, 2023
I am still filthy Brad Fitler did not pick Nicho Hynes for Origin. He Is a big game player and loves to own the big moments....#NRLSharksRoosters
— The Mac Daddy (@Paddydaddyburgs) September 9, 2023
Sharks ain’t it, nicho unquestionably their best, back line just lacks any uniqueness, *try put someone in a hole-run-score. No spark. Must have the oldest foward pack in the league too, Jack Williams is nice tho. Nicho tryna conduct an orchestra of people with amusia.
— Dusty NRL Takes (i'm right) (@dustynrltakes) September 9, 2023
Personally thought Hynes has a great game, but no top 8 team should lose from the position the Sharks were in!
— 10 in the Bin 🔟🗑️ (@ask10inthebin) September 9, 2023
He was good when the Sharks were on top, but when the seas became choppy he was unable to assist. Like last year and in Origin. I suspect his papers are being marked as I type.
— Amarillo (@Amarillo1942237) September 9, 2023
After the game, Hynes described the loss at Shark Park as tough. "It's heartbreaking. Too many errors cost us in that second half," he said to Paul Gallen. When talking about the drop-goal, Hynes admitted he may have got the positioning wrong. "I probably should have got myself a bit deeper in hindsight," he said.
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