It was tough and grinding, far from pretty, but in the end two points is two points and on the back of an outstanding defensive display the Sharks have claimed their first win of the 2018 season.
In the final wash up it was just a try apiece, but in taking advantage of their superior field position, four penalty goals, five goals in all when including the conversion and the Sharks would come away with the 10-point win.
Following back to back losses to begin the season, the win was a vital one in keeping the Sharks within striking distance of the competition leaders.
The Sharks opened the scoring courtesy of a Chad Townsend goal in the 13th minute of the match, before the same man would add to his teams advantage with a try just four minutes later.
A Gallen off-load put Jayson Bukuya into space, before the back rower found Townsend in support, with the Sharks half dashing the final 15-metres to score.
Townsend was again on target with his kick at goal and the Sharks had a nice 8-0 lead.
An error shortly after gifted the Eels field position and they were able to capitalise, centre Kirsome Auva’a crashing over in the south-eastern corner of ANZ Stadium.
Mitchell Moses was unable to add the extras and it was 8-4 Sharks 20-minutes into the contest.
Controlling proceedings well the Sharks marched back up the other end of the field and it was another penalty goal, again kicked by Townsend that would push his team ahead by six, then a fourth goal and his third penalty goal of the night, sent the Cronulla side to a 12-4 lead at the break.
Starting the second half strongly the Sharks continued to press and were unlucky not to add to their lead when Ricky Luetele was unable to get the ball down when reaching out in the in-goal, before back-to-back Eels penalties saw them mount some pressure of their own on the Cronulla line.
The Sharks weathered the storm and looked as if they may have extended their lead when Jayden Brailey collected a loose ball near the Eels try line, however the video referee deemed him to be in front of the kicker and the try was disallowed.
While the Sharks were creating more chances than their opponents they were unable to put the Eels away and again survived a Parramatta attacking raid before James Segeyaro picked up a loose ball and dashed 60-metres downfield to put his team back on the attack.
In trying to recover while defending their line the Eels gave away yet another penalty and Townsend kicked yet another goal, his fifth and fourth penalty goal of the night, with the Sharks going ahead 14-4 with seven minutes of the match remaining.
However there was still some drama to come, an error from the kick off giving the Eels a glimmer of hope, but once more the Sharks would defend their line and hold on to their 10-point lead in notching they first win of the 2018 season.
For the Sharks Townsend’s kicking ultimately proved the difference, while his halves partner in Trent Hodkinson was controlled and solid in taking over the five-eighth role from the injured Matt Moylan.
Skipper Paul Gallen, after rumours had him missing the match through injury, was strong in the middle, laying on the Sharks only try with a clever off-load.
On the injury front, Josh Dugan limped from the field but was cleared of having any serious issues, with Jayson Bukuya the only player causing some concern with an abdominal strain.
The Sharks will now look to regroup ahead of a Friday night blockbuster against the Melbourne Storm at Southern Cross Group Stadium next week.
Chad Townsend try, Townsend 5 goals
Kirsome Auva’a try
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