They’ve been winless since midway through the 2009 NRL season, but the Cronulla Sharks finally broke their duck tonight, winning 11-0 against an out-of-sorts Eels side.
The contest wasn’t pretty, from either side – with heavy rain making things even worse. The Eels couldn’t hang on to the ball and gave Cronulla tonnes of possession – but the Sharks weren’t able to convert much of it into points early on.
With the scores deadlocked at 0-0 at the halftime break, the Sharks got a standing ovation from their home crowd of hardy souls – the tally of not much over 10,000 in the audience happy just to see them not trailing at the break.
The dull contest didn’t get much more exciting in the second stanza, Cronulla however, looking slightly more at ease in the ‘trenches’ style battle – their enthusiasm paying dividends when Blake Ferguson scored, piercing the Eels left side defence in a decent effort.
Tim Smith the new no.7 for Cronulla wasn’t perfect with his direction and passing, but his presence alone andÂ diligentÂ kicking game was helping the Sharks no-end.
The Eels seemed to be playing as individuals and it was hard to imagine this was last years Grand Final side. Usually fired-up Fui Fui Moi Moi was even a little quiet by his standards and few of the Eels forwards wanted to dominate – a situation that might force Daniel Anderson to make some hard-changes next week.
On the flip-side, Cronulla bookends Luke Douglas and Kade Snowden kept their hardworking traits going – again busy and really physical in their defence.
The Sharks were to score again, a double to Ferguson down the same passage on the Eels left defence.
Even at 8-0 and 20 minutes to go, the Parramatta side didn’t look likely to line-break.
The Eels were missing tackles badly, double the amount the Sharks were and suddenly the punters who took the Sharks at $4.60+ were licking their lips at the payday.
A late penalty goal and a field goal on the hooter by Tim Smith sealed the win for the Sharks – and they have avoided being branded with the same record as the Western Suburbs Magpies of yesteryear.