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Round two disappointment for junior Sharks

They both had their chances, however in the end it was two wins for the Eels against the Sharks in the round two SG Ball and Matthews Cup matches played at PointsBet Stadium on Saturday.

In the under-17 Matthews Cup match the Sharks trailed 24-4, fought back to be behind by just four points, before two late Parramatta tries saw the visitors claim a 34-20 victory.

In the under-19 SG Ball match to follow, the Sharks would score with their first possession, the teams then traded tries to go to half time locked up at 10-all, however it would be the Eels to finish the strongest in recording a 28-18 win.

Despite the two disappointing results, there was still plenty to like about the two performances against a highly rated opposition.

"While disappointing to lose, there were still some positive to come out it," Sharks Matthews Cup coach Brad Kelly said.

"The fact they didn't give up, they were down 24-4 and still remained pretty positive and had belief they could come back, that was one pleasing thing to see.

"I was glad they had a bit of grit."

The Eels began the game on the front foot, four converted tries pushing them out to a commanding 24-4 advantage.

Two smart tries, the first by fullback Oliver Lester from a well-worked backline move, the second to Elijah Cooper running onto a well-timed pass from five-eighth Callum Grantham, and the Sharks went to the break trailing 24-16 but with the belief they could mount a second-half comeback.

That confidence was enhanced when Jaylan Herron touched down in winning the race to a Lester grubber kick, but that would be as close as the Sharks would get, the Eels weathering the storm and scoring twice late to confirm the win.

"In the second half we came out really well and were looking like we were coming over the top of them, but a couple of errors and a couple of decisions didn't go our way and we got punished," Kelly added.

"That's part of learning at this age, to maintain pressure and to stick to game plans. There were areas where we did and periods were we didn't."

In the SG Ball the Sharks were on the scoreboard in the opening minute when Albert Litisoni finished off a move started by centre Michael Gabrael. The Sharks scored a second try through Jasper Catton, who hit a hole and scampered 30-metres to score, with the teams going to half time level at 10-all.

The Sharks gained the ascendancy with two second-half four pointers, the first to Nikora Williams with a determined charge from close range, the second when backrower Pharrell Gray won the race to an Ashton Simmonds kick and at 18-10 it was the Sharks on top.

From there though the Eels regrouped and would dominate the final quarter of the contest, three converted tries in the final 20 minutes rounding out a 28-18 victory.

"Our effort was there again, we had some good patches, but we didn't play the footy we wanted to play for long enough periods to get the result,” Sharks SG Ball coach Dave Howlett said.  

"The boys are a work in progress, we know what we are capable of, we just need to get back to training and work hard to translate that into a 70-minute performance next week."

The two men's Sharks junior rep teams have a win and a loss after two rounds in 2024. They face the Canberra Raiders at PointsBet Stadium in round three matches next Saturday afternoon.  

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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