Quarter Final - NRL 9's - Sharks v Eels
Showing the 9’s format is just as much about restricting the opposition from scoring as it is playing flashy football, stonewall Sharks defense frustrated the Eels into errors. Add their defensive work to a couple of bursts of brilliance with the football and it was the perfect formula for the Sharks to progress to a semi final match up with the Brisbane Broncos.
The Sharks scored first when Nathan Gardner backed up a Blake Ayshford break and despite missing the kick at goal the Cronulla side had their noses in front at 4-0.
Parramatta responded, controlled the football for the next period of the match and after holding out for the first set of six the Sharks eventually succumbed on the repeat set, Joseph Paulo crashing over from close range before converting his own try.
After doing mountain of defensive work in the first half the Sharks would have been encouraged to go to the break down by just 6-4.
Getting their hands on a share of the ball the Sharks pressured their opponents in the opening minutes of the second half and it was the find of the tournament Valentine Holmes, slicing through after an exchange of passes to put his team up 9-6 with a bonus point try.
Nathan Stapleton added the extras and the Sharks led 11-6.
Stapleton was in the action again a short time later, running onto a flat cut-out pass from Holdsworth to touch down wide out. Holdsworth was on target with the kick at goal and the Sharks had a match winning 17-6 advantage.
The Eels however didn’t give up and would have still harbored thoughts of last ditch win, but when Corey Norman was called off side when chasing a Chris Sandow kick the game was as good as over.
With youngsters Holmes, Michael Lichha and Nu Brown making major contributions and the old heads such as Wade Graham, Andrew Fifita and Daniel Holdsworth steering the ship, the Sharks will head into their semi-final clash with Brisbane with a great deal of confidence.
The match was due to kick off at 3.45pm (Sydney time).