A Nicho Hynes conversion after the fulltime siren snatched an 18-16 win for Cronulla over Parramatta in a thriller at PointsBet Stadium.
The dramatic finish was a fitting climax to a see-sawing battle between the Sharks and Eels, in which Hynes and rival halfback Mitchell Moses were both outstanding for their teams.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was among the Cronulla fans who jumped to their feet when Matt Moylan put Teig Wilton over in the 80th minute to give Hynes the opportunity to claim the first win under new coach Craig Fitzgibbon.
Wilton was in the thick of the action during the match and appeared to make it his personal mission to test out the fitness of Moses, who was injured midway through the first half and hobbled out to the wing.
The Eels halfback managed to play on but was unable to goal kick and was targeted by the Sharks forwards, with Wilton placed on report for a late tackle.
Match: Sharks v Eels
Round 2 -
Venue: PointsBet Stadium, Sydney
- The Sharks absorbed plenty of early pressure before winger Ronaldo Mulitalo gave the home fans something to cheer in the first match at PointsBet Stadium since 2019. Mulitalo scored in the 13th minute after swivelling out of attempted tackle by Clint Gutherson after fullback Will Kennedy had chimed into the backline and linked with centre Connor Tracey.
Ronaldo just can't be stopped
- Mulitalo then turned try saver when he forced Bailey Simonsson to plant the ball on the touchline with a driving tackle as the Eels winger dived into the corner in the 26th minute.
- The tackle was vital but proved costly with Mulitalo bleeding from a head gasj and eventually forced from the game at halftime.
- Fellow Sharks winger Sione Katoa extended his team's lead when he crossed untouched in the 30th minute after Kennedy again linked with halfback Nicho Hynes to create an overlap and centre Jesse Ramien passed the ball to his right edge partner.
Katoa won't get an easier one
- Mitchell Moses got Parramatta back into the game with a moment of brilliance on the last tackle before halftime when he ran out of dummy half and chipped over Cronulla lock Dale Finucane. The ball bounced up perfectly for Clint Gutherson to bat it on to five-eighth Dylan Brown, who found Moses in support.
Moses lights it up to score
- With Moses unable to kick, Gutherson landed a 49th minute penalty goal to level the scores at 8-8 after Teig Wilton tackled Ray Stone off the ball.
- Gutherson landed another penalty goal five minutes later after Wilton was placed on report for a late tackle on Moses.
- The Sharks quickly hit back when Tracey, who had shifted to the wing, crossed in the corner off a flick pass from Hynes to regain the lead.
Hynes magic gets Tracey over
- A 62nd minute Reed Mahoney try put the Eels in front and when Gutherson stripped the ball from Cronulla prop Braden Hamlin-Uele 10 minutes from fulltime it looked like they would hang on.
- Wilton was heavily involved in the match and it was fitting he scored the try that enabled Hynes to secure the win for Cronulla with the conversion after fulltime.
Wilton levels it up with no time left
Play of the game
The Eels spent much of the first half camped down their opponent's end but gained little reward due to the resilience of Cronulla's defence and there was no better example than Ronaldo Mulitalo's try saving tackle on Bailey Simonsson. The Sharks winger showed no regard for personal safety as he drove low to prevent Simonsson from grounding the ball in the field of play and was eventually forced out of the game at halftime due to a head knock but it was a brave and crucial play.
Simonsson acrobatics not enough
What they said
"I was just proud of the way they played so it was a good experience. That was a high quality game in my opinion. They are a serious footy team and they just kept coming and kept coming. We probably hurt ourselves with discipline. I felt like we just needed some opportunities and when we got them we did enough. We just left it a bit late": Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon.
"I thought we were beaten physically in the first 40 minutes and probably went a bit lateral. The effort was there, I thought they were brave in the second half. We have got to be that team that starts physically, looking to grind instead of just all out footy, footy": Eels coach Brad Arthur.
The Sharks travel down the M1 to Wollongong on Thursday for the derby clash with St George Illawarra at WIN Stadium, while the Eels have a trip to Melbourne next Saturday night.
Star winger Ronaldo Mulitalo will need to pass the NRL's HIA protocols to play against the Dragons after being forced to sit out the second half of the match against Parramatta, with Matt Ikuvalu the obvious replacement.
Second-rower Teig Wilton suffered a leg injury but managed to continue playing. He was placed on report for a late tackle on Mitchell Moses.
Moses hit late and gets a penalty in front
Halfback Braydon Trindall will be available for selection after completing his two match suspension from the All Stars match.
Moses was clearly troubled by a leg injury but not enough to stop him having a massive impact on the match and the Eels will be hoping he is fit to play the Storm. Arthur said he had suffered a corked quad.