Full Time
5:30pm Sat March 19, 2022
Round 2 - PointsBet Stadium, Woolooware - Crowd: 11459

Match Overview

With just under a minute remaining on Saturday night, it looked like the Cronulla Sharks would be condemned to a familiar fate. 

Too often in past years, the Sharks had scored more tries than the opposition but goal-kicking had let them down and it was almost the case again.

But the new face of the franchise, Nicho Hynes, threatened late and kicked the game-winning goal as the Sharks celebrated a thrilling 18-16 win over the Parramatta Eels. 

The decisive turning point came when Ray Stone was penalised for a cannonball tackle in the dying minutes of the game.

It saw Cronulla handed one final chance to strike and this time it was Matt Moylan coming up clutch, throwing a short pass for Teig Wilton who crashed over.

Hynes, who was yet to convert any of Cronulla's prior three tries, stepped up to slot the goal after the siren.

It was the perfect homecoming for the Sharks, who returned home for the first time in two years.

The Sharks were clunky in attack last week against the Raiders but showed few signs of rust in the opening half.

Ronaldo Mulitalo broke an attempted tackle from Clinton Gutherson to score Cronulla's first try of the game in the 11th minute, rewarded for a strong defensive effort shortly prior.

On that occasion Mitchell Moses had chipped towards Bailey Simonsson's corner but Mulitalo rose above to take the kick and earn his side a penalty. 

Mulitalo was at it again on the defensive end 15 minutes later, with a last-gasp tackle stopping Simonsson from soaring over in the corner.

It was the other wing that struck gold shortly after as a well-worked right-edge raid saw Sione Katoa go over untouched.

Parramatta camped itself on the Cronulla line in the latter stages of the half but had no answers for a relentless Sharks defence. 

That was, until a moment of pure brilliance saw the Eels' spine link up and spark Parramatta to life.

On that occasion, Moses chipped ahead and Gutherson tapped the ball onto Dylan Brown who found his halfback trailing in support.

"It was so good I don't think the Sharks could have stopped it," former Melbourne Storm halfback Cooper Cronk said on Fox League's coverage of the game.

The Eels looked the better of the two teams early in the second half, kicking two-straight penalty goals to go ahead 10-8. 

But a slicing run from Hynes saw Connor Tracey score as the Sharks regain the lead.

Hynes though had a tough outing with the boot, missing his third conversion as the buffer remained two points.

That buffer did not last though as Shaun Lane burst through minutes later to put Reed Mahoney over.

Cronulla had a few opportunities to steal the win late but try-saving tackles from Gutherson and Will Penisini appeared to have Parramatta destined for victory. 

There would, of course, be one final twist as the Sharks eventually capitalised on strong field position late to secure a much-deserved win.

The Sharks face the Dragons next week while Parramatta have a stern test against Melbourne.

3. Nicho Hynes

He was the hero after the siren but the Sharks looked very dangerous when Hynes touched the ball, with his running game in particular threatening. Two tackle busts, three linebreak assists and one try assist for Hynes on Saturday.

2. Isaiah Papali'i

A huge effort from Papali'i in a beaten side, running for over 150 metres, busting five tackles and making 29 tackles. Tireless in defence with crucial try-saving efforts.

1. Ronaldo Mulitalo

A bit controversial given he failed to finish the game but such was the impact Mulitalo had in the opening half. The winger scored a sensational try and saved two. He also already had 86 run metres and three tackle busts by halftime.