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The Sharks have broken a 13 game losing streak that extended back to June 2009 this evening, defeating a lackluster Parramatta Eels side that is struggling recapture their late 2009 form.
The Sharks have come under some heavy criticism so far this season and rightly so. They have not looked like winning against their first 3 opponents, but today they showed determination and keenness to halt their well publicised losing streak.
The return of ex-Eel bad boy Tim Smith and the inclusion of 4 other ex Eels in the Sharks lineup added to the impetus that the Sharks took into the match and it showed as they had most of the running in the first half.
Despite a scoreless first 40 minutes, the Sharks looked the more impressive side being tackled 20 times in the Eels 20m zone compared to the Eels 6 times and were denied a couple of tries through poor handling.
The Eels never looked like scoring in the first half, with a forward pass from Hayne to Grothe being the only real opportunity.
As the rain continued to bucket down in the second half, it was clear that the Sharks were playing for keeps tonight. The Eels have shown a distinct lack of energy, determination and guts so far this season and would do worse than to look at how the Sharks played tonight and learn from it.
The first points of the game came from a smart move by Trent Barrett who put Blake Ferguson in the clear down the right hand side. The video ref ruled there was no obstruction and the Sharks hit the lead for the first time this year.
The Eels, who have been renown for big 2nd half performances this season, were looking to more menacing at this stage, but another dropped ball deep in Sharks territory gave Blake Ferguson a huge run down the ground. Nathan Hindmarsh came across in cover defence, but an excellent fend saw Ferguson snag a double in a very strong game.
The opportunity for the Eels to comeback came in the 70th minute. Timana Tahu only needed to hold onto the ball to put the Eels on the score-board, but a dropped ball led to a Sharks break culminating in a rough hit from Fui Fui Moi Moi which was place on report. There is unlikely to be any further action though.
The Sharks had the best of the ball and the best of the day.
The 13,000 strong long suffering home crowd were rewarded with a win for braving the elements.
Albert Kelly had a nervy debut being tested by the high ball often in the first half, but was then rarely challenged in the second. Paul Gallen had a tough and solid game, whilst Kade Snowdon and Paul Aiton were impressive. Tim Smith's return was not outstanding, but he showed that he still has an excellent kicking game and will be tricky to read with his passing game.
For the Eels there were few positives. Tahu had a shocker, whilst Hayne tried, but could not make any inroads. Matthew Keating had a decent game at dummy half, Nathan Cayless had some promising runs. Ben Smith was ruled out of the game after rolling his ankle in training yesterday, but Justin Poore at 2nd row was uninspiring. Daniel Anderson will have to start thinking about new combinations and options for the Eels if they are going to get their winning form back.
As for the Sharks, they have a quality team on paper and maybe now it is time for them to show their potential.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 11 defeated Parramatta Eels 0
National Rugby League - NRL - Round 4 - Saturday April 3, 2010 5:30pm
Venue: Toyota Stadium
Referee: Ashley Klein and Tony De Las Heras
Video Referee: Russell Smith Touch Judges: Steve Chiddy and Adam Reid
Halftime: Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 0 Parramatta Eels 0
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Blake Ferguson (2 Tries)
2 Points - Paul Gallen
1 Point - Kade Snowden
CRONULLA SUTHERLAND SHARKS (11)
Tries: Blake Ferguson (2)
Field Goals: Tim Smith (1/1)
Conversions: Tim Smith (0/2)
Penalty Goals: Tim Smith (1/1)
PARRAMATTA EELS (0)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Running late, but we are here! Tim Smith plays against his former club and the Eels are desperate for a win. The Sharks are as well. Who wants it more?
3 min: Sharks push for a try, but NO TRY according to Video Ref. Paul Gallen knocked on just short of the line
6 min: Inu diffuses a big bomb in the ingoal area. Sharks are attacking a lot but have come up with nothing yet. Eels have yet to complete a set.
9 min: Eels finally complete a set. Hayne finds touch 5 metres out from Sharks line.
13 min: Robson puts up a big bomb and youngster Albert Kelly takes the catch but knocks it on when he lands. Eels in a big attacking position
14 min: It's a bit wet at Toyota Park tonight. Another drop ball, this time by Mateo, 5 metres out.
18 min: Another bomb from Robson. Testing Albert Kelly again. This time he is interfered as he goes to catch it. Penalty Sharks.
20 min: Some razzle dazzle down the left wing from the Eels, but another drop ball finishes the move. This time Mateo. Seems like no-one can score today.
25 min: The handling has been shocking today. Completion rates are around 50%.
28 min: Big head clash with Mateo and Tim Smith. Smith loses the ball as he falls to the ground. Cut to Smith's chin but looks to be ok.
29 min: PENALTY Sharks - 10 metres out. Chosing to run it.
30 min: Sharks lose the ball as they attack. Yet another error! Errors are 8 a piece.
32 min: 40/20 attempt from Barrett. Hayne just reaches it near the goal-line and taps it back keeping it in play. Covell is down injured...play continues.
34 min: Covell helped off. Another 40/20 attempt, this time from Tim Smith. Inu takes it well and PENALTY Eels for a lift.
35 min: Break down the right wing by Albert Kelly. Chased down by Tahu and a knock-on from Sharks. He's quick, young Kelly.
37 min: Eels almost in but FORWARD PASS from Hayne to Grothe on the right wing. Oh so close, but it looks like it could be a scoreless first half..
40 min: 30 seconds to go in the first half. Eels camped in their half.
40 min: It's Half Time here at Toyota Shark. A sloppy and un-inspiring first half. Chances were few and usually poor handling prevented any fluidity. Here's hoping the 2nd half picks up!
40 min: 16/25 Completions from Sharks. 12/20 Completions from Eels. Gives you an idea of the amount of errors.
41 min: 2nd half underway! Can anyone score?
43 min: Eels on the attack. Grubber in goal is just too deep and Sharks restart at the 20m.
Daniel Anderson has instructed his team to "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb" young Albert Kelly.
44 min: TRY
A smart try from the Sharks down the right. Barrett found space and spread a pass out wide to Ferguson. Video Ref says no obstruction and it's a try. Smith misses the conversion
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 4-0
50 min: The rain is coming down hard at Toyota Park. Breeze favouring the Eels in the 2nd half. Expect a lot more drop ball!
50 min: PENALTY Sharks - 35 metres out. Hands in the play of the ball. They elect to tap and run against the breeze.
52 min: Sharks on the attack with a nice run from Aiton. It all comes undone with a poor pass ruled as a knock-on. Eels Scrum.
55 min: TRY
Eels were on the attack, but Tahu loses it and the Sharks pounce. Ferguson beats Hindmarsh down the right wing for a 2nd try in the corner.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 8-0
59 min: PENALTY Sharks - Eels offside 5 metres out. Sharks are going to attempt a penalty goal.
60 min: PENALTY GOAL
In the pelting rain, Tim Smith slots through 2 points. Time for an Eels comeback?
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 10-0
62 min: PENALTY Sharks - Jarryd Hayne kicks the ball out on the full from the kickoff. That breeze seems to be making a difference..
67 min: Sharks are on the attack again. Last tackle inside the Eels 30. Grubber kick taken by Inu.
68 min: PENALTY Eels - Mateo ruled to have been stripped in a close call with Tupou.
70 min: Tahu puts it down on the try line to bomb a try. Sharks pick it up and head back up the field. Fui Fui cleans up Ferguson and is given a penalty for a high shot. Harsh.
71 min: VIDEO REF - We're looking at a possible try to Albert Kelly following a grubber from Aiton.
71 min: NO TRY - Kelly ruled to have knocked it on. Eels have the ball from the 20m.
72 min: Eels have yet to bomb Albert Kelly in this 2nd half. A lacklustre grubber directed to him is taken easily.
73 min: Eels have nothing in attack today. Wrong options taken repeatedly. Time runing out. Sharks are still looking sharp.
77 min: Tahu makes a meal of the play of the ball and gives the ball away. 3 minutes to go.
80 min: Into the final minute of the game. The Eels have been trying, but nothing is coming off. Nice crowd of 13,213 in the pouring rain.
80 min: FIELD GOAL
With the siren going off the background, Tim Smith takes a pot shot at Field Goal and it goes through. This game is over!
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 11-0
80 min: It's been a big day for the Sharks. Their 13 game losing streak is broken and they are 1-3 for the season. The same record as the Eels who were disappointing today. Not enough determination or energy.