The Sharks have managed to snag their first two competition points of season 2023 after a spirited, come-from-behind 30-26 victory over Parramatta at CommBank Stadium on Friday evening.
The opening stages of the contest could not have gone much worse for the visitors with Parramatta snatching a pair of tries through Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Maika Sivo in the first five minutes to jump out to a 10-0 lead.
The Sharks answered at the 14-minute mark through edge back-rower Briton Nikora who steamed through a gaping hope off the hip of Braydon Trindall to dive over.
Fullback William Kennedy managed to pierce a similar hole moments later for his first try of the evening as the Sharks snappily bit into Parramatta’s lead.
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The back-and-forth nature of the affair continued with Mitchell Moses - who was celebrating his 200th NRL appearance - poking his nose through on a fifth-tackle sweep play to wrestle the lead back for Parramatta 33 minutes in.
Cronulla remained unbothered, however, with five-eighth Matt Moylan showing the ball and streaking through a meagre Parramatta defensive line from the halfway mark to put Kennedy over back up the middle for his second and snatch an 18-14 half-time lead.
The first points of the second half came in typical Parramatta fashion with a pristine Dylan Brown cut-out hitting Sivo on the chest as he tore down the left touchline and crashed over his opposite to plant the ball down.
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With the game in the balance approaching the final quarter, Sharks flanker Ronaldo Mulitalo snatched a looping Clint Gutherson cut-out and raced away downfield before being rounded up 30 metres out from the Parramatta line.
Kennedy burst onto the ball and following play and utilised some sharp footwork to dive over underneath the sticks and reclaim the lead for the visitors.
A deft Moylan chip five minutes later gave Mulitalo a one-one-one, aerial opportunity against Bailey Simonsson which the New Zealand international took full advantage of skying to wrangle the ball in and ground it in the corner.
Now leading 30-20 with less than a quarter remaining, Cronulla were poised to grab their first win of the new season despite still being without star Nicho Hynes.
A J’maine Hopgood charge laid on a Moses four-pointer with eight minutes remaining to set up a grandstand finish but the Sharks were able to hang on to claim their eighth win over Parramatta from their past 11 attempts.
Kennedy was sensational for Cronulla scoring three tries and running for a team-high 183 metres with four tackle breaks whilst Moylan and Trindall combined for a quartet of try assists.
Dale Finucane was his usual, workhorse self running for 176 metres from 16 carries and making 43 tackles in 64 minutes of play.
Brown assisted on two tries for Parramatta and ran for a game-high 196 metres whilst Hopgood assisted on two of his own, ran for 145 metres, and made 47 tackles in 71 minutes.
The Sharks now shift their attention to a Sunday evening meeting with the Raiders in Canberra next week where they will be eyeing back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
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