2023 NRL Round 2: Sharks 30, Eels 26

Result

Cronulla Sharks 30
Tries: Briton Nikora 14th; William Kennedy 18th, 36th, 55th; Ronaldo Mulitalo 60th
Goals: Braydon Trindall 16th, 19th, 37th, 56th, 62nd

Parramatta Eels 26
Tries: Reagan Campbell-Gillard 3rd; Maika Sivo 5th, 43rd; Mitchell Moses 33rd, 72nd
Goals:
Mitchell Moses 4th, 44th, 72nd

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Report

With both teams heavyweight premiership contenders and coming off round one losses, the Friday night game between the Parramatta Eels and the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks at Commbank Stadium was a highly anticipated match up.

The Sharks were still without Nicho Hynes due to a calf injury and losing Wade Graham for three weeks following a dangerous tackle in last week’s loss to the Rabbitohs, the away team had their work cut out for them.

Conversely, the Eels this week saw the return of former international Bailey Simonsson after a shoulder injury sustained in last year’s grand final defeat. The Eels did however come into this game with their own drama, as halfback Mitch Moses in his 200th NRL game, admitted the swirling rumours regarding his upcoming playing contract.

Not needing anymore motivation to win, as neither team brought home the two points in the opening round of the season, the teams were playing for the Johnny Mannah Cup, a prize that commemorates the memory of the Eels junior and Sharks player who tragically passed away in 2013 after a battle with lymphoma. 

The two sides met only once in season 2022, all the way back in round two, and fought a close contest all the way to the end, with the Sharks sealing the deal in the final minutes of the game to the delight of the fans at Shark Park.

This time, it was the Eels who gained the home ground advantage, playing in front of a packed Commbank Stadium for the second week in a row. With the history and talent of both these sides, it was no shock that the first half of the match was a tightly contested fight, with both teams showing up with something to prove.

After an opening series of hard hit-ups and exchanges, it was the Eels that drew first blood with a crafty piece of work from Reagan Campbell-Gillard. The Parramatta Eels would go on to score 14 through contributions from Maika Sivo and Mitchell Moses before the half was over.

The Cronulla Sharks weren’t going down without a fight, however, and after a skilful passage of play, hit back through Briton Nikora before adding to their tally with two four pointers from William Kennedy, leaving the scores standing at 18-14 to the away team. 

Both teams came back from the break ready to rip in and fought for victory until the final moment of the match. The Eels feeding off their loyal fans in the stands added tries from Sivo and Moses to their tally, while the Sharks dug deep and managed to produce more points through the likes of Kennedy and Ronaldo Mulitalo.

In the end, despite a hard-fought contest between the two, it would be the Cronulla Sharks that would take home their first win of the season and the Johnny Mannah Cup for 2023.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTS

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3 – William Kennedy (Sharks)
2 – Maika Sivo (Eels)
1 – Blayke Brailey (Sharks)

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