Sharks down error-prone Eels
The long-awaited NRL return of James Segeyaro ended up being a quiet 20-minute cameo at the end of a dominant 20-6 win for his new club the Sharks over an incredibly sloppy and frantic Eels side at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
Cronulla's furious defensive line-speed and aggressive tackling seemed to throw the Eels off their game as they picked up where they left off in a dire loss on the Gold Coast last week.
The Eels conceded a mountain of errors and penalties across the 80 minutes and while the Sharks weren't significantly more disciplined they did a better job of creating and taking chances in the three-tries-to-one win.
The return of star half Corey Norman did little to spark the Eels in what was an emotional night for both clubs celebrating the life of former Sharks and Eels forward Jon Mannah in the annual Johnny Mannah Cup.
Segeyaro's long-awaited return saw him watch the first 60 minutes of the contest – which included a bright try-scoring stint to young-gun hooker Jayden Brailey – and he looked a touch rusty in his first NRL games since Round 11 last year.
The Sharks ground their way to a 12-6 half time on the back of tries to Brailey and Sosaia Feki.
Completion rates hovered at around 60 per cent for both teams but it was the Eels with some poor pushed passes and offloads that really struggled to get going.
Cronulla's first try was created by a couple of nice offloads from Matt Prior and Andrew Fifita with Brailey supporting Wade Graham's line break in the 10th minute.
Feki's 29th-minute score also came via some nice work from Graham on the left edge after he burst through a gap with the Eels unable to scramble as Feki found himself in acres of open space.
The Sharks were dealt a double blow in the shadows of half time as first Graham stayed down with an ankle injury – before playing on – then a Corey Norman grubber sat up for David Gower to get his team on the board.
Parramatta's first few sets after the break seemed a bit more disciplined but it didn't take long for Cronulla's in-your-face defence to frustrate then into further errors and they continued to cough up ball when in attacking range.
James Maloney took an easy two points to extend the lead to eight from a 46th-minute ruck penalty before he scored himself following a horror two minutes from the Eels.
First Bevan French offloaded to the ground while in attacking range to hand the Sharks possession before Norman then Nathan Brown were penalised for ruck infringements to gift the Sharks an attacking set, before a Paul Gallen charge and offload sent Maloney over in a two-minute passage that summed up the Eels' night.
Segeyaro was injected shortly after and gave away a penalty within moments of entering the field in an otherwise uneventful first spell back but will be better for the run.
For Parramatta, their first home game of 2017 was less than encouraging and leaves coach Brad Arthur with plenty of questions to answer about how to get the best out of his team following consecutive poor losses.
Cronulla Sharks 20 (Brailey, Feki, Maloney tries; Maloney 4 goals) defeated Parramatta Eels 6 (Gower try; Gutherson goal) at ANZ Stadium. Half time: Sharks 12-6. Crowd: 17,003.