Win the battle, lose the war would seem to be the operative phrase for the Cronulla Sharks.
The took a nice scalp in beating the reigning premier Storm in the previous round, but it came at the cost of losing Wade Graham for a week.
The second-rower went out late in the game in the Sharks’ 17 – 14 win, and failed to return after being examined on the sideline.
Good news came along in the form of scans showing that his injury was not as bad as initially suspected. Graham has a minor medial injury, which is medical terminology indicating that a knee injury is minor, so long as it is someone else’s knee.
Graham will miss the Sharks’ next game with the North Queensland Cowboys, but with the way the Cows have been playing this year, it seems that most of them have been out all season, so it would seem that Cronulla could excuse Graham for the week with limited risk.
The club is of the opinion that he can be back for the match with the Newcastle Knights, but Newcastle is only moderately more challenging, so it would seem prudent to use Graham sparingly, if at all, in the run up to finals.
Graham personally has had a difficult campaign in 2018. The 27-year-old should be enjoying a peak season, still young enough to run, but experienced enough to know in which direction.
He has missed six games this season through various issues, including hamstring, groin, concussion and cheekbone issues. He also endured a suspension.
Cronulla has done well in the Telstra 2018 NRL Premiership competition, despite being continually challenged to but their 13 best players on the field at the same time.
They have had stretches where they were missing, other than Graham, Josh Dugan, Luke Lewis and Paul Gallen, yet they lack only two points from reaching a top-four finish and they have three games against the bottom eight clubs to wrap up their regular season.