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Hayne dazzles as Eels slap Sharks

Hayne dazzles as Eels slap Sharks
NSW's 2014 Origin campaign has officially entered crisis mode and judging by the Eels' 42-24 try-fest at Pirtek Stadium on Monday night, so has Cronulla's NRL season.

While Parramatta joined five teams on 10 points on the ladder with their thumping win, the Shiremen were dealt their seventh loss in nine games to return to the NRL cellar.

But the biggest news of the night centred around an injury to Blues prop Andrew Fifita, who limped out of Parramatta on crutches with a high ankle sprain suffered in the first half.

With the short-term futures of key Blues men Mitchell Pearce and Greg Bird already up in the air after a horrid weekend, it may prove to be NSW coach Laurie Daley that endured the worst loss of the night.

And Cronulla probably felt like joining him in the foetal position, as all they could do was watch reborn Eels halfback Chris Sandow and superstar Jarryd Hayne turn in sparkling attacking performances.

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Sandow began the game with a spiralling kick off that forced opposite number Jeff Robson into error. And while the Eels failed to score in the ensuing set, the tackle-one turnover from the Sharks was all that Hayne needed to fire a bullet for rampaging winger Semi Radradra to score his 11th try of the season and earn the early 4-0 lead.

Cronulla responded in almost identical fashion in the ninth minute, with fullback Michael Gordon chiming in on a left side shift that gave winger Sosaia Feki a saloon passage to the tryline.

And when second-rower Wade Graham put his hand up – or feet, rather – for a plane ticket to Brazil next month with a classy first touch off a Robson dink to touch down nine minutes later, the Sharks looked like handing the Eels their first loss at home this year.

But then came a jaw-dropping 10-minute period where the home side fired three straight tries past a stunned Sharks defence.

The first was a slick 40m movement that started and finished with Hayne in the 28th minute. The likely Blues No. 1 put left centre Willie Tonga away near halfway, before backing up and stepping three defenders on his way to the tryline for a four-pointer trailing only Greg Inglis' superhuman effort for try of the year honours.

The second was all Sandow, with the once-troubled halfback slipping a trademark chip for himself that wrong-footed Gordon and bounced perfectly for the Eels No. 7.

And after converting his own try, the former Rabbitoh then completed the first half with a 40-20 that ended – after two quick-taps that were pulled back by the referees – in Sandow popping a long ball for Sio to score in the right corner and earning a 22-12 lead at the break.

The home side continued where it left off in the second half, with Hayne creating space for Hopoate to finish off a simple right side shift in the 49th.

Graham bombed a chance to nab his second when he lost the ball over the line in the 55th, but the game tensed up when Sharks skipper Paul Gallen bumped off three defenders and popped it up for Isaac De Gois to reduce the deficit to 10 points.

Cronulla looked like cramping Parramatta's lead further when they attacked the Eels line in the 63rd minute, but Gordon's pass was picked off by Willie Tonga, who found enough legs to complete the runaway 80m try. Sandow added the extras and restored the three-try lead.

But still the visitors wouldn't go away and when Luke Lewis hit Gordon with a 68th minute inside pass to put the fullback through untouched, the Eels were again made to earn their win.

Fittingly, it was their match-winning duo of Sandow and Hayne who came to the fore.

Two tackles after slicing through the Sharks defence, Sandow put up a crossfield kick that Hopoate pulled down and passed to Sio – all in one motion – for a response in the 72nd.

Then Hayne completed the night with a runaway 70m try off a Sharks mistake four minutes later, only to be sin-binned in the final minute for a professional foul.

Sharks second-rower Anthony Tupou was put on report for a head slam on Eels backrower Manu Ma'u.

Parramatta Eels 42 (Sio 2, Hayne 2, Radradra, Sandow, Hopoate, Tonga tries; Sandow 5 goals) defeated Cronulla Sharks 24 (Feki, Graham, De Gois, Gordon tries; Gordon 4 goals). Crowd: 12,541. 

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