Five Key Points – Sharks v Eels

1 It's never over till it's over
The old adage says a game is never over until it's over, and never were there truer words spoken than when referring to the Sharks nail-biting win on Saturday night.

This one actually went longer than the allocated 80-minutes, with fans, not to mention coaches and players, left holding their collective breath as Mitchell Moses lined up a shot at goal to send the game into overtime after the fulltime siren had sounded.

To the relief of the majority of the crowd at Southern Cross Group Stadium, the kick was pulled to the left, leaving Cronulla on top by two, but the manner in which they let the Eels back into the contest, somewhat soured the celebrations following their third consecutive win.

The coach forgave the last try, scored after a series of wild off-loads which stuck and left the Sharks defence scrambling, but he wasn't happy about the previous two that gave the Eels the opportunity to level the match.

The first 74-odd minutes were outstanding, the last six as Flanagan said in his post-match press conference, a 'horror movie'. We'll take this one, but it just goes to show its never over until it's over.

2 Edrick the big improver
Edrick Lee arrived at the Sharks in 2017 and while making five NRL appearances, spent most of his time playing for the Newtown Jets in the Intrust Super Premiership.

Sione Katoa and Sosaia Feki got the jump on him in claiming the wing spots in round 1 this year, but whispers out of the Sharks summer training sessions were about Lee and his outstanding pre-season, one which had him pushing strongly for a place in the NRL side.

He got his chance when Katoa broke his jaw, then when Valentine Holmes was shifted back to the wing, Lee was retained at the expense of Feki, which to some was a bit of a surprise.

Since then however Edrick has been the tower of power on the Sharks left wing, then was equally effective out on the right last Saturday night against the Eels.

While he has try scoring ability, crossing four times in five matches, his strong carries of the ball out of the Sharks defensive end of the field has been a feature.
It should be remembered Lee was rated highly enough while at the Raiders to be included in some Queensland emerging Origin camps, so he has ability, which is now starting become abundantly clear.

And the Sharks faithful are noticing his improvement as well, with Lee, at least in the Upper ET Stand around the media box, fast becoming a fan favourite.

3 Holmes getting to feel more at home
The video referee played the role of the Grinch in denying the long-range Valentine Holmes try (probably correctly after viewing the replay), however that moment of brilliance showed his confidence is continuing to grow in the fullback position.

Holmes was safe at the back, returned the ball with his usual gusto, had some good touches linking with his inside men and outside backs, in perhaps his best effort in the number one jersey this season.

He may not be first choice, with Dugan likely to return and take over at fullback in two to three weeks' time, but as his coach has kept saying, Val is a work in progress at fullback and Saturday night was another step in the right direction.

4 But.......Concentration the key
All of the above may be true, however as his coach stressed post game, as good as Holmes, and his entire squad for that matter, was for 74 minutes, they let themselves down in the final moments to allow the Eels back into the match.

Holmes had the chance, with a couple of others, to stop Parramatta forward David Gower, then couldn't quite get there in time to defuse the grubber for the Michael Jennings try, which ultimately led to the frantic finish.

It certainly wasn't all his fault, but it showed the concentration and stamina fullbacks need for the entire duration of the game.

Ultimately the Sharks did win, Holmes was excellent for the majority of the contest and we will forgive him this one, especially after running 80-metres for a no-try immediately before the remarkable Eels resurgence.

5 Brailey the 80-minute warrior...and Paulo a special mention
He's only recently turned 22 but Jayden Brailey continues to show maturity beyond his years, turning in a typically polished performance against the Eels on Saturday night.

Brailey was sharp with his service from dummy half, his defence was again first class, while his running game continues to develop.

However in showing his fitness and durability, Brailey completed the entire 80-minutes, playing more than a quarter of the match at lock, after he was forced to play in the unfamiliar position due to injuries to backrowers Graham and Sorensen.

It was a display of the coach's faith in the young local junior to get the job done in whatever the circumstances.

Also, special mention to Joseph Paulo, who not long ago was playing 20-minutes a game in an interchange role.

Like Brailey, Paulo managed to push through the entire 80 minutes, starting in the middle at lock, before the injuries pushed him out onto the left edge.

The versatile Paulo got through his work to a high standard, playing an integral role in the Sharks win.