Round 5 this year saw the first real incidence of the "bounce-back factor" – although there have been several more since – as the Eels came out smarting from a 50-0 whitewash at the hands of the Roosters to eke out a 13-6 win over the Sharks at home.
The Eels made a determined start in the inaugural Johnny Mannah Cup in what turned out to be a gritty and low-scoring affair. The Sharks tried hard without key playmaker Todd Carney who was absent with a foot injury but never seemed to click.
Eels centre Ryan Morgan crossed after 13 minutes, cutting through close to the line on a Ben Pomeroy misread in defence, before Sharks fullback Michael Gordon put the visitors up 6-4 at the midway point of the first half. The Sharks needed some fortune to get there as a cross-field kick bounced off the crossbar to deny Chris Sandow a chance at defusing it.
The Eels then had to repel a wave of possession as the Sharks earned a number of repeat sets before Morgan earned his double on 33 minutes following some great lead-up work by Hayne to help send the Eels into the sheds 10-6 leaders in what turned out to be the last try of the match.
After no points were scored in the 20 minutes following halftime the Eels opted to take a penalty kick from in front following some push and shove between Gallen and Moimoi, and after a tense 15 minutes featuring a couple of missed field goals Luke Kelly managed to put the Eels out past a converted try with five remaining as they grimly hung on for a win.
The sides were fairly even statistically, aside from Parramatta enjoying 55 per cent possession on the back of Cronulla making 13 mistakes against just six for the Eels. Tim Mannah had one of his finest games in recent memory, including making 159 metres from 16 runs and 34 tackles – both team highs. For the Sharks, Michael Gordon ran 242 metres with five tackle-breaks as well as scoring a try.