Benji Marshall produced his best performance in a St George Illawarra jersey and Josh Dugan grabbed a hat-trick as an injury-plagued Cronulla side were put to the sword 30-0 in Wollongong on Saturday.
The beleaguered Sharks were without 13 of their top-25 playing squad and 2010 Golden Boot winner Marshall took full advantage having a hand in five of his side’s six tries in front of a crowd of 12,079.
Dugan gave his hopes of a recall to the NSW Origin side as a right centre a real shot in the arm with two tries before the interval, with Peter Mata’utia and Gerard Beale also crossing for four pointers.
The former Canberra star completed the second hat-trick of his career midway through the second half when he soared above a statuesque Sharks defence to haul in Marshall’s perfectly-weighted kick.
Dugan’s display will certainly have given NSW coach Laurie Daley food for thought but so would the level of opposition he faced, which was little more than a reserve-grade standard.
But it would be churlish to be too critical of Marshall, in his third game since his shock return to the NRL from his disastrous spell in New Zealand rugby, as he showed glimpses of the class he demonstrated so often in a Wests Tigers shirt.
Mata’utia’s 13th-minute opener was created by a sweeping run and pass from the former Kiwi skipper that found Aidan Quinlan in support.
Marshall then set up Dugan’s first try with a smart inside ball before producing a no-look pass to gift-wrap his second.
He then delivered a delicious long pass to Gareth Widdop that resulted in Beale charging over the line.
The Sharks were much improved after halftime but were toothless in attack and with playmakers Todd Carney and Jeff Robson on the sidelines, they never really put the hosts under pressure.
Beale added some extra gloss to the scoreline with his second try four minutes from time following a brilliantly regathered grubber-kick from Widdop, handing McGregor his first victory as interim coach.