Moses stars on return as Eels sink Sharks

George Clarke |

Parramatta’s Mitchell Moses set up two tries in the Eels’ 34-22 win over Cronulla.
Parramatta’s Mitchell Moses set up two tries in the Eels’ 34-22 win over Cronulla.

The return of Mitchell Moses has breathed new life into Parramatta’s beleaguered NRL season, with a 34-22 win over ladder-leading Cronulla snapping a five-game losing streak.

The Eels’ talismanic halfback had been absent for the past 10 weeks with a broken foot, but showed few signs of rust as he set up two tries in Thursday’s win in front of 11,665 fans at CommBank Stadium.

The win – the side’s first since Brad Arthur was sacked and replaced by interim coach Trent Barrett until the end of the season – was also underpinned by the return of Eels captain Clint Gutherson. 

The Parramatta fullback has been sidelined with a knee issue for the past month,  but he was back to his dogged best, chalking up 245m with the ball in hand. 

The win keeps the Eels in contention to make a late-season charge into the top eight, whereas the loss will invite fresh questions over the Sharks’ depth.

Without halfback Nicho Hynes and lock Cameron McInnes (injury), the Sharks lacked the class to trouble an Eels side that played with purpose and intent. 

The defeat, which comes a week after a 42-0 shellacking at the hands of Penrith, means Cronulla have lost top spot to Melbourne and drop to second on the NRL ladder. 

The Sharks, however, struck first, with a Gutherson error allowing Daniel Atkinson to send Sione Katoa over after just four minutes. 

But the Eels took little time to recover, Moses working some magic to send in Will Penisini on the right flank, before Gutherson repeated the trick on the opposing wing with Maika Sivo.

Parramatta's Maika Sivo.
Parramatta’s Maika Sivo scored two first-half tries in the Eels’ win over the Sharks. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

The Fijian winger has been way below his best this year, but he looked like he had hit top gear to rampage over the top of Will Kennedy to add his second of the night.

Kennedy and Ronaldo Mulitalo combined just before halftime to score a 95m try to cut the Eels’ lead at the break to 16-10.

Parramatta, though, failed to wilt, even after a sustained period of Cronulla pressure early into the second half. 

Junior Paulo led the charge, the Samoan prop carrying five defenders over the line before dotting down.

That alleviated some of the pressure, Moses kicking a penalty and then setting up Bailey Simonsson to give the Eels some further breathing room.

Atkinson and Katoa scored tries in quick succession to cut the Eels’ lead to just six points heading into the final 15 minutes, but a barge-over from Dylan Brown clinched a much-needed win for the Eels.