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Raiders keep their top 4 hopes alive with a win over the Warriors

Canberra Raiders back-rower Elliott Whitehead

The Canberra Raiders have kept their top-four hopes alive this afternoon at GIO Stadium, with a 26-14 win over the New Zealand Warriors.

Despite the twelve-point margin, the result could have easily gone the other way after the Warriors dominated the first half.

The Raiders weren’t at their best early, with ill-discipline costing them.

They returned to the style they are known for in the second half and slowly gained control.

Injuries will be on Ricky Stuart’s mind this week, with George Williams, Josh Papalii, and John Bateman all under injury clouds.

Williams left the field for a HIA after eight minutes and never returned for the Raiders.

Nevertheless, the Warriors deserved their lead after ten minutes through plenty of possession.

Kodi Nikorima put a deft grubber in behind the defence and Hiku did well to ground it inside the dead-ball line.

It only took the Raiders seven minutes to level the score at 6-6.

With Williams off the field, Jack Wighton took the reins and put Jarrod Croker in with a great face ball at the line.

The next fifteen minutes would be a real concern for Stuart, with the Raiders side, temporarily at least, losing their focus.

Chanel Harris-Tavita knocked over two penalty goals in the 20th and 25th minutes, the latter coming from a melee arising out a scrum.

Minutes later, Josh Papalii pulled Tohu Harris down by grabbing his hair, something that may well be looked at by the Match Review Committee.

An offside penalty on the Raiders line was seen as enough infringements and Jack Wighton was sent to the sin bin.

The Warriors took advantage straight away, with a great no-look pass from Nikorima to Hiku.

The Warriors held a 14-6 advantage with ten minutes to go in the first half.

Momentum changes are commonplace in rugby league and there is no doubt the next one had a massive bearing on the game.

The Warriors were again threatening to score with Wighton still off the ground when Jazz Tevaga got a loose pass away.

Semi Valemei was the first to swoop and outpaced the Warriors’ cover to run the length of the field for the try.

The Raiders seemed energized by this and a further miracle try ensued.

Elliott Whitehead ran the ball down the right edge and grubbered through the line. He regathered and kicked back inside.

Ryan Sutton toed it forward and Hudson Young did well to score a most remarkable try.

Incredibly enough, with Wighton returning just before half time, Canberra held a 16-14 lead at the break, completely against the run of play.

Ten minutes after the re-start, the Raiders benefited from another intercept.

Tuivasa-Sheck threw a pass that could have led to a Warriors try if it wasn’t intercepted by Whitehead.

He linked up with Jordan Rapana who was chased down well upfield.

From there the Raiders swept left, with Croker turning Valemei back inside for an impressive try.

A kick out on the full and offside penalty allowed Croker to get the Raiders out to an eight-point lead going into the last quarter of the game.

A hamstring injury to Tuivasa-Sheck seemed to suck some of the resistance out of the Warriors although they never threw in the towel.

The Raiders sealed the win with seven minutes remaining after a right edge raid.

The ball went through nine pairs of hands in all, with Nick Cotric scoring in the corner.

The Raiders were home, but Stuart will know his team will need to produce better over the next month to progress far in the finals.

Stuart was far from pleased with the refereeing performance and made his thoughts clear post-game.

The Raiders coach saw the game mirroring that of a rugby union clash.

“If we had have put some lineouts in when the ball went out, we would’ve had two rugby union games here in two days,” Stuart said.

As his time at the Warriors comes to an end, Todd Payten praised the players for changing his life and his career journey.

“I’m really proud of this group of men, they’ve changed my life,” said Payten.

“I owe them a whole debt of gratitude.

“I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity they’ve given me and my family moving forward.”

NRL News Player of the Game

3 points: Elliott Whitehead (CAN) took on a lot of responsibility with George Williams missing much of the game.

Two of his kicks resulted in tries, an intercept led to effectively a twelve-point play, whilst he also did his usual work in attack and defence;

2 points: Kodi Nikorima (WAR) had a strong game for the Warriors, setting up two tries and continually threatening the Raiders’ defensive line.

1 point: Jack Wighton (CAN) was perhaps a bit unlucky to spend time in the sin bin, but the rest of his game was top-notch, especially with his halves partner out of the game.

New Zealand Warriors half Kodi Nikorima

Storm run out comfortable winners over the Cowboys on the Sunshine Coast

Melbourne Storm captain and hooker Cameron Smith

The Melbourne Storm ran out comfortable 36-20 winners over the North Queensland Cowboys at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

The final twenty minutes, however, will not have impressed Storm coach Craig Bellamy.

After Penrith and Roosters underlined their premiership credentials earlier this weekend, the Storm certainly looked like they were following the trend for much of the game.

However, three Cowboys tries in the last quarter of the game took some gloss off the Storm’s win.

Against the early run of play, the Cowboys were the first to score after just five minutes.

Jake Clifford ran the ball on the last tackle and got a face ball away to Esan Marsters.

Marsters grubbered behind the defence. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow was first to the ball and planted the ball down in the corner.

Valentine Holmes hit the upright but the Cowboys had drawn first blood.

Josh McGuire then had a brain explosion which swung the momentum firmly the way of the Storm.

Whilst bringing the ball away from his line, McGuire felt he was held in the tackle too long and turned his attention to referee Grant Atkins.

Whatever McGuire said was enough for Atkins to show ten fingers and send McGuire off the field.

Just two minutes later, the Storm made the Cowboys pay. One man short, the Cowboys defensive line was stretched.

Cameron Smith sensed this and his dummy-half pass to a rampaging Nelson Asofa-Solomona was never going to be stopped.

Smith followed up just four minutes with a flat pass out of dummy half to Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, who repeated the dose.

By the time McGuire returned in the seventeenth minute, a 4-0 Cowboys lead had turned to a 12-4 deficit.

The Storm were on top and they added to their lead ten minutes later.

Melbourne directed plenty of traffic down the Cowboys right edge and it eventually paid off.

Some smart lead up work from Cameron Munster and Nicho Hynes got Josh Addo-Carr one on one with Kyle Feldt.

Addo-Carr managed to bounce off Feldt and ran thirty metres to the line after finding a large gap back inside.

Melbourne scored again just before the break, again via Smith.

On the Storm’s left again, Smith dummied to Fa’asuamaleaui and held up the pass cleverly for Munster who dived over untouched. Melbourne held a twenty point lead at half time.

It only took six minutes for the Storm to open their account in the second half and a rout seemed likely.

After Hynes made a line break down the left edge, Munster took on a backpedalling Cowboys defence.

He darted inside from dummy half, hurdled John Asiata and scored the easiest of tries.

At this point, the Cowboys were completing at 61% and couldn’t sustain any pressure on the Storm.

When they did hold the ball, the points came.

With just over twenty minutes remaining, Clifford ran across field and found Marsters who cut back inside, beat Suliasi Vunivalu and ran 50m to score.

A great kick from Clifford just minutes later gave the Cowboys some more field position.

Scott Drinkwater took advantage with a pinpoint crossfield kick.Feldt outjumped Addo-Carr for a great try.

With the lead reduced to 30-14, the Cowboys were not yet done.

However, with just over ten minutes remaining, a series of set restarts helped the Storm secure the two points.

Smith was the instigator again, finding Jesse Bromwich who spun around and passed to Jahrome Hughes, who took an angled run to the line.

The Cowboys continued to play some enterprising footy.

After a short kick-off delivered possession, a surge left gave Holmes the ball in some space. He beat Munster to score.

After threatening to put a big score on the Cowboys early in the second half, the Storm will be happy to secure the 36-20 win and just about seal a home semi in the first week of finals.

However, sterner tests await and Bellamy will be wondering whether the Storm defence simply took their foot off the pedal when the game was won, or whether the defensive lapses are more serious.

NRL News Player of the Game

3) Cameron Smith (MEL) – Whether he decides to retire or not at the end of the season, we know that Cameron Smith could play on. He was at his crafty best around the ruck, with three try assists in the first half alone.

2) Cameron Munster (MEL) The Storm directed a lot of their attack on the left edge and Cameron Munster was instrumental in a number of tries whilst scoring two of his own;

1) Justin Olam (MEL) – Justin Olam had one of his best games for the Storm, running some big metres, making 5 tackle busts in the first 40 minutes and hitting hard in defence.

Melbourne Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster

Cowboys edge the Dragons in golden point thriller

North Queensland Cowboys prop Josh McGuire

A Valentine Holmes field goal has ended the St George Illawarra Dragons’ season tonight after the North Queensland Cowboys edged them 23-22 in a golden point shoot out.

The Dragons will rue several missed chances with Mikaele Ravalawa knocking on with the line wide open and three Corey Norman line-breaks not leading to points.

Yet, the Cowboys showed a determination not showed often enough this season, fighting back on a number of occasions.

The Cowboys were first to score after a set restart and an offside penalty gave North Queensland field position.

Reuben Cotter found Francis Molo with a deft ball out of dummy half and Molo crashed over for an early try.

After a series of mistakes from both sides, the Dragons levelled in the 25th minute.

Ben Hunt held up the pass nicely for Euan Aitken who proved too much for a back-pedalling Cowboys defence.

The Dragons had clicked into gear and scored again just five minutes later.

Off the back of a seven tackle set, Adam Clune drifted right and found Zac Lomax.

He drew the defence but left Ravalawa with little space to move.

Ravalawa showed great skill to get the ball down in the corner and the Dragons were in front.

With two minutes left in the half, Clune found Corey Norman with a smart inside ball.

Norman ran forty metres but couldn’t find the final pass for the try.

The play was called back after Clune was held back by Scott Drinkwater.

Lomax kicked the penalty goal to give the Dragons a 12-6 lead at the break.

The Cowboys hit back straight after the break. A Jake Clifford bomb was allowed to bounce.

Smart work from Holmes and Kyle Feldt found Clifford backing up and he beat Matt Dufty to score.

Holmes converted from the sideline and the scores were level.

A short side play only six minutes later re-established the Dragons lead.

Clune showed some nice footwork on the left edge and his pass to Jacob Host was too good for the defence.

Still, the Cowboys refused to yield. A mistake by Jordan Pereira lead to a Dragons drop out.

Drinkwater ran it on the last and found Holmes inside who was always going to beat Hunt at close range.

A Lomax penalty goal edged the Dragons ahead 20-18 with sixteen minutes remaining.

However, just three minutes later, Drinkwater was in the action again and a great flick pass to Feldt put the Cowboys in front.

Holmes couldn’t convert but North Queensland held a two point lead.

The Dragons threw a lot at the Cowboys over the last ten minutes but their defence held on.

With just three minutes remaining, an offside penalty hurt North Queensland and a Lomax penalty goal evened things up.

After missed long range field goal attempts from both teams, golden point awaited.

Norman missed the first field goal shot in extra time after a burst from Tyson Frizell.

Two minutes later, the game turned on its head after a Holmes field goal was charged down and six more tackles were ruled.

This time around Holmes made no mistake with his field goal and the Cowboys had won 23-22.

A streak of nine losses had been broken and Josh Hannay had earned his first win as a first grade coach.

For the Dragons, another upset loss had seen any chance of a finals appearance snuffed out.

The Cowboys win was a boost but Josh Hannay, who did not get the gig full-time, showed his disappointment.

“It was a challenging week to say the least,” Hannay said.

“But it’s our job to turn up every day. It’s my job to coach, it’s the players’ job to play.”

Dragons coach Dean Pay did not mince his words when describing the golden point loss.

“Same s–t, different day,” he said.

“For the second week in a row, the game was there to be won in the last five minutes which is what this club wants to be about.

“We want to be fighting for the full 80 minutes, right to the death.

“But this club deserves to win as well. There’s individuals not getting their jobs done – and that’s what’s costing this team.”

NRL News Player of the Game

3 points – Josh McGuire got through a mountain of work in attack and defence, running for 223 metres.

He kept the Cowboys in the game when the Dragons were threatening to get on top.

2 points – Cameron McInnes was the workhorse for the Dragons, running 199 metres and being tireless in defence

1 point – Scott Drinkwater was back to his best tonight, being instrumental to the Cowboys’ fightback in the second half.

St George Illawarra Dragons utility Cameron McInnes

 

 

Warriors dismantle the Knights to keep their top eight hopes alive

New Zealand Warriors fullback and captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

The New Zealand Warriors were clinical as they dismantled the Newcastle Knights 36-6 at Scully Park in Tamworth this afternoon.

There has been much talk in recent weeks that the top eight is already set in stone. The Warriors had something to say about that.

Tamworth took the Warriors team in earlier in the year when it seemed like their season would be over before it began.

They certainly repaid that faith this afternoon, with a dominant performance.

The danger signs were there early. Handling errors from David Klemmer and Star To’a in the first six minutes gave the Warriors field position.

They were good enough to take advantage, with Peta Hiku fending off Enari Tuala and then getting a flick pass away to Adam Pompey who managed to get the ball down in the corner.

Chanel Harris-Tavita converted from the sideline and the Warriors were off to a solid start.

The Warriors moved to 8-0 eight minutes later after Lachlan Fitzgibbon was penalised for a high shot on Kodi Nikorima.

The Warriors were dominating possession and field position so the Knights’ only try came against the run of play.

In their first entrance into the Warriors quarter, a Mitchell Pearce bomb was contested and Gehamat Shibasaki put the Knights on the scoreboard.

Kalyn Ponga curled the conversion in from the sideline and the Warriors led 8-6 after 20 minutes.

That was the way it stayed until half time. Both teams had their chances but were unable to convert.

The Warriors stepped it up early in the second half, with swarming defence keeping the Knights pinned in their half.

The chances came. Daniel Alvaro was rolled over in goal and just held up.

It was time for one of their leaders to take charge and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck did just that.

After a six again call from a Warriors pass that was touched, Tuivasa-Sheck beat Pearce with some trademark footwork and beat the cover defence to the line.

After a successful conversion, the Warriors had restored their eight point lead with twelve minutes gone in the second half.

The Warriors had played almost mistake free football and fatigue became a factor for the Knights.

After Harris-Tavita and Nikorima forced three back to back drop outs, the Newcastle defence finally cracked.

It came through Hiku, who punched a hole in the line, before getting a miracle flick pass to Pompey.

Pompey had Ponga to contend with but planted the ball down in the corner for his second try.

At 18-6, the game was still not over with fifteen minutes to go.

Starting from broken play, To’a made a long run through the Warriors defence and only wonderful cover defence from Harris-Tavita saved a certain try.

It also ended any hopes of a Newcastle fightback.

Just five minutes later, a cannonball penalty against Pasami Saulo gave the Warriors a sniff.

A switch of play got Tuivasa-Sheck into a little space. He found Hayze Perham and his pass to George Jennings was first class.

Jennings scored untouched and the Warriors were home.

The scoring didn’t stop there though, with Tuivasa-Sheck beating Mitchell Barnett, Pearce and Ponga to score his second try with six minutes to go.

With a minute to go, Jazz Tevaga dived over, after a well directed face ball, for a deserved try. The Warriors had won 36-6.

The Warriors only made two handling errors for the match and completed at 95%, effectively shutting the Knights out of the game.

Winning four of their last five games, if anyone is going to shake up the current top eight, it may well be Todd Payten’s team.

NRL News Player of the Game

Three points- Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – Tuivasa-Sheck was safe under the high ball, ran for 201 m and scored two quality solo tries. Whereas Ponga was well contained, Tuivasa-Sheck was the best player on the park.

Two points – Chanel Harris-Tavita – Harris-Tavita continues to impress at half back, controlling play and forcing multiple drop outs in the second half. His cover defence to bring down To’a late was a special play.

One point – Jazz Tevaga – Tevaga was busy in the middle, in both attack and defence. His ability to offload had the Knights defence backpedaling on many occasions.

New Zealand Warriors half Chanel Harris-Tavita

Roosters end the Tigers season with convincing win

Sydney Roosters fullback James Tedesco

The Sydney Roosters effectively ended the Wests Tigers’ season tonight with a dominant 38-16 win at Leichhardt Oval.

In Trent Robinson’s 200th game as coach of the Roosters, his injury ravaged team was out of the blocks far too early for the Tigers.

The Tigers rallied after half time but, after the Roosters capitalised on a few mistakes, the game was gone.

After a solid start from the Tigers, a poor pass from Luciano Leilua gave the Roosters field position.

Tedesco made his first line break for the night putting the Tigers’ defence on the back foot.

From there, a cut out pass from Drew Hutchinson found Josh Morris who put Matt Ikuvalu over in the corner.

Tedesco’s second line break just 6 minutes later paved the way for the Roosters’ second try.

In a right side play, Kyle Flanagan drifted across field and found Joseph Manu.

He stood up the defence and got a flick pass away to Brett Morris for a 12-0 lead after 16 minutes.

The Tigers’ defence looked vulnerable across the park and things didn’t look any better when Sitili Tupouniua burst through some poor defence just a minute later.

Tupouniua’s run set up Josh Morris for his first try.

After a couple of contentious Captain’s Challenge decisions that favoured the Roosters, they were good enough to again score.

Flanagan’s rainbow pass was inch perfect for Brett Morris who was in for his second.

After just 26 minutes, the Roosters were 20 points up.

That’s the way it stayed until half time.

Michael Maguire knew his team was playing for their season and encouraged his players to throw the ball around in the second half.

And throw it around they did.

Call it helter skelter, call it razzle dazzle, call it anything you like, the Tigers played some great football after the break and the Roosters struggled to handle it.

With their defence stretched, Jacob Liddle dummied at the ruck and beat Hutchinson to score.

Just minutes later, some Benji Marshall got a magic ball to Adam Doueihi and he slammed it down.

14 minutes into the second half, the Roosters lead was reduced to 8 and the Tigers looked well on top.

From there though, a poor ball from Luke Brooks to Luke Garner and then a kick from Doueihi, which just rolled dead, stopped the Tigers’ momentum.

The seven tackle set ensuing from the Doueihi kick took the wind out of the Tigers comeback.

Tedesco turned the ball back inside to Siosiua Taukeiaho and his pass, whilst falling, to Hutchinson was special.

The try was awarded and the Roosters were back in control.

The Roosters scored two tries in the next seven minutes, one to Manu after beating three defenders and a second to Josh Morris who pounced on a loose ball, from a contested bomb, to score.

A late try to David Nofoaluma, albeit with a terrific put down, was not nearly enough for the Tigers and the Roosters edged back into the top four with a 38-16 win.

The Tigers did have their chances but will rue some mistakes made in that second half period when the game was on the line.

NRL News Player of the Game

3 points – James Tedesco (SYD) – With Luke Keary on the sidelines, Tedesco was everywhere tonight.

Other than playing a lot of first and second receiver, he made two line breaks establishing the Roosters’ early lead.

Plenty of try involvements and a safe night at the back made him a clear man of the match.

2 points – Siosiua Taukeiaho (SYD)  – Taukeiaho was again immense for the Roosters, making a mountain of metres and getting 2 try assists with great balls to Tupouniua and Hutchinson.

1 point – Josh Morris (SYD) – The Morris twins are having a renaissance this season.

Josh Morris scored two tries, one long line break and negated Joey Leilua’s influence on the game.

He turns 34 tomorrow but seemingly only gets better.

Sydney Roosters forward Sio Siua Taukeiaho

Raiders pile on the misery for the Broncos

Canberra Raiders halfback George Williams

The Brisbane Broncos season from hell continued tonight with a 36-8 loss to the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium.

The Broncos slumped to their fifth loss in a row for the second time this season.

After the first 40 minutes, Broncos fans would have been impressed with what they saw.

It took just six minutes to get a glimpse of why the Gold Coast Titans paid big money for David Fifita for next year and beyond.

Fifita got on the outside of Elliott Whitehead, drew in Jordan Rapana and got a flick pass away to Kotoni Staggs.

Staggs raced down the right touch line and grubbered back inside for Jesse Arthars.

Staggs conversion was off the mark but the Broncos had the early lead.

The Raiders hit back in the 13th minute.

A deft George Williams chip in goal forced a drop out and an offside penalty saw the Raiders with repeat sets on the Broncos line.

A lob pass from Williams was perfect for Rapana who scored in the corner.

Croker made no mistake and the Raiders held a 2 point lead.

However, the Broncos had the better of the remainder of the half.

Staggs got away on the right edge again but his pass inside to Arthars went to ground.

Payne Haas then got away a great offload to Brodie Croft, with his kick into the goal just cleared up by the Raiders defence.

After a couple of dropped balls from Ryan Sutton, the Broncos dominated the last 10 minutes of the half.

The Raiders repelled repeat set after repeat set, making 40 tackles to the Broncos 4 at one point.

It finally told. Darius Boyd’s grubber wasn’t handled cleanly by Nick Cotric and Herbie Farnworth dived over.

Staggs’ conversion was again wayward but the Broncos were up 8-6 at the break.

With 63% possession, the Broncos would have wanted a greater lead but the Raiders defence had been strong.

The Broncos in 2020 have had a record of second half fade-outs and so it proved again tonight.

The Raiders’ middle got early momentum before John Bateman beat Croft on the right edge and drew Darius Boyd before passing inside to Williams who scored untouched in the 46th minute.

The Raiders then pounced on a poor kick from Tom Dearden that cost his team a 7 tackle set.

Late in the count, Joseph Tapine drifted across field and got an offload to Williams.

Williams seemed to have an age to make his decision before finding Curtis Scott with a good ball and Cotric was in, again untouched.

14 minutes into the second half, the Raiders 2 point half time deficit was now an 18-8 lead.

From there, it was one way traffic, with the Raiders in complete control.

Bateman scored off a Williams kick in the 60th minute before the Raiders scored a brilliant try just 3 minutes later.

A left edge raid by Jack Wighton got Whitehead into some space. He found Croker with a smart pass and he was off down the left touchline.

His kick back inside found Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad who finished off to score.

The Broncos were down 30-8.

The carnage was complete in the 66th minute after Corey Harawira-Naera ran 60 metres through the middle of some lacklustre defence from the Broncos.

From the ensuing play, Bateman and Curtis Scott combined to put Cotric in space.

He beat 3 defenders to score and after another conversion from Croker who had a perfect night goal-kicking, Canberra led 36-8.

The Broncos had some chances late but couldn’t convert.

The damage had very much already been done and the Raiders consolidated their position in the top 8 with a comfortable win.

The bad news didn’t stop there for the Broncos, with Jake Turpin’s season in doubt after breaking his hand.

Kotoni Staggs is also on report for a late shot.

NRL News Player of the Game

3 points – George Williams – Williams guided the Raiders around brilliantly in the second half with his kicking game on point. He set up a number of tries and scored one himself

2 points – Joe Tapine – Tapine was great off the bench for the Raiders, running for 165 metres and getting away a number of offloads.

1 point – John Bateman – Bateman has returned to his dynamic best and caused problems on the right edge all night.

Canberra Raiders forward Joseph Tapine

Parramatta Eels pip Cronulla Sharks in torrential conditions

Parramatta Eels half Dylan Brown

In some of the worst playing conditions we have seen in years, the Parramatta Eels have held on to beat a gallant Cronulla Sharks 14-12 at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium this afternoon.

Sitting under an East Coast low, the ground became increasingly waterlogged as the game went on, with both sides doing well to complete a set, especially in the second half.

In these type of games, kicking games are paramount and so it proved today.

It was the Sharks who had the better of play in the first 10 minutes.

Though the Eels grabbed control with pinpoint kicking from Mitchell Moses and Dylan Brown leading to 3 repeat sets for the Eels in a 5 minute period.

In the 20th minute, with the Sharks defence rushing up, Dylan Brown dummied to go left and dived over next to the posts. Moses made no mistake and the Eels led 6-0.

The Sharks hit back just seven minutes later. A Moses kick was taken smartly by Matt Moylan who put Shaun Johnson into space, who spread the ball to the Sharks’ right edge.

Johnson then added to his try assist tally by putting a smart kick into the in-goal.

Jesse Ramien just beat Maika Sivo to the stationary ball and the Sharks were on the board.

Johnson’s conversion was pushed slightly to the right and the Eels led 6-4.

The Eels continued to force multiple restarts, helped by Nathan Brown in particular making dominant runs through the middle and giving Parramatta good field position.

However, the Sharks defence, sadly missing it’s intensity for most of the season, was much improved.

Despite the Eels having 57% of possession, the score remained 6-4 at the break.

As conditions worsened, holding the ball at your own end became crucial.

The Sharks were the first to make that mistake, with a poorly directed pass from Matt Moylan dropped by Ramien.

Off the ensuing set, Dylan Brown showed some impressive footwork to poke through the Cronulla line.

He got a smart ball away to Kane Evans who dived over, adjacent to the posts. Moses again converted and the Eels led 12-4 in the 46th minute.

The Sharks hit back quickly. With 50 minutes gone, Gutherson couldn’t handle a Johnson grubber and the Sharks had a set on the Eels line.

One set was enough as some smart work from Blayke Brailey at dummy half but Johnson in a bit of space.

His cut out ball to Ronaldo Mulitalo was not perfect but Mulitalo did well to juggle and get the ball down in the corner.

From the sideline, in horrendous conditions, Johnson hit his conversion sweetly but it hit the upright and bounced away. The Eels led 12-8.

A brilliant 40/20 from Johnson 5 minutes later gave the Sharks another chance.

They went right again and Will Kennedy chimed in to give Mulitalo a little space.

He stepped back inside, beat 3 Eels defenders and planted the ball down. At the 57th minute mark, it was 12-12.

Johnson could have been forgiven for his first two conversions but he needed to make this one, 10 metres in from touch. It wasn’t a sweet connection and sailed right.

Both sides then were able to force restarts but couldn’t convert. The match eventually turned in the 69th minute in bizarre circumstances.

The Sharks had the feed in the scrum and held the ball at the base of the scrum to try and force an offside penalty.

The Eels pack put on a push and won the ball against the feed.

The Eels went close to scoring before Braden Hamlin-Uele tackled Reagan Campbell-Gillard without the ball.

Moses converted the penalty beside the posts to make it 14-12 with 10 minutes to go.

That was the way it stayed. The Sharks had their chances but the Eels defence held strong and won 14-12.

Cronulla will feel it was the game that got away, scoring 3 tries to 2, going down 7-2 in the penalty count and being on the wrong end of some 50/50 calls.

However, the Eels played the smarter football in the closing minutes and will gladly take the 2 competition points.

NRL News Player of the Game

3 points: Dylan Brown. Brown scored a try and set up another. Other than that his kicking game was impressive, forcing multiple restarts along with Moses.

Moses’ injury a few weeks ago may well prove to be a blessing in disguise, with Brown not afraid to call the shots over his more experienced halves partner.

2 points: Nathan Brown. Brown was massive for the Eels forward pack, running for 221 metres.

He was the reason why the Eels had the better field position for the match.

1 point: Shaun Johnson. Johnson will be disappointed with his missed conversions but without him, the Sharks don’t score 12 points this afternoon.

His short kicking game, his 40/20 and work on the right edge was all class.

Parramatta Eels lock Nathan Brown