Cronulla Sharks post NRL win over Panthers, Newcastle Knights pip Parramatta Eels
Matt Moylan plays a starring role for the impressive Sharks in their win out west against the Panthers, while the Knights hold on to edge out the Eels in Newcastle.
Moylan has last laugh as Sharks beat Panthers
Matt Moylan celebrates scoring for Cronulla against his former club Penrith. (AAP: Dan Himbrechts)
Matt Moylan helped give Cronulla’s top-four hopes a significant boost with a 24-12 win over former club Penrith at Panthers Stadium.
Once the golden child of Penrith’s young brigade of talent, Moylan was booed from the moment he entered the field to the full-time siren by the majority of 11,742 spectators on Friday night.
But it did little to hinder his performance as he scored his first try in Cronulla colours and then put Valentine Holmes away to seal the win with four minutes left.
After Penrith trailed 12-2 at half-time and hit back through Waqa Blake after the break, Moylan ran onto a Scott Sorensen inside ball for an 18-6 lead.
Penrith hit back through Corey Harawira-Naera with 11 minutes to play, but Moylan ended any hopes of a comeback when he dummied and sliced his way through from within his own half to put Holmes over.
He finished the game with 105 metres and five tackle busts, enough to potentially force his old club out of the top four for the first time since round three if the Sydney Roosters win well over the Gold Coast on Sunday.
The win also moves the Sharks level with Penrith on 24 points, but still behind on for-and-against as part of a six-team logjam between third and eighth separated by only one win.
In a heated affair that saw Andrew Fifita push Penrith’s Jack Hetherington up the tunnel at half-time, Penrith scored the opening points through a penalty goal before Sione Katoa got Cronulla’s first try.
Moylan then had his first serious impact, providing a short ball for Wade Graham who turned it back inside for Holmes to have his first try in the 34th minute.
Aaron Woods makes a pass for the Sharks in their win over the Panthers. (AAP: Dan Himbrechts)
Meanwhile young Penrith halfback Jarome Luai was again impressive in just his second game in the number seven jersey, as the Panthers rested State of Origin stars Nathan Cleary, James Maloney and Tyrone Peachey.
He laid on the try for Blake when he stepped to get outside of opposing number Chad Townsend to create space for his second, and could have had another assist had Christian Crichton not fumbled a kick to score late.
He also pulled off a try saver on Sharks utility Kurt Capewell early in the second half, tackling him hard to dislodge the ball as he went to dive over in the corner.
Rookie full-back Caleb Aiekins also ran 278 metres on debut, while James Tamou and Viliame Kikau were damaging through the middle.
Knights hold on to beat Eels
Nicholas Meaney is wrapped up by the Eels defence during the Knights victory. (AAP: Darren Pateman)
A returning Mitchell Pearce has piloted Newcastle to a scrappy yet thrilling 18-16 win over an error-plagued Parramatta on Friday night.
Eels star Jarryd Hayne was close to best on ground in Newcastle, setting up two of the Eels’ three tries but it was Pearce who proved the difference.
The Knights skipper’s deft kicking game has been sorely missed during his absence due to a pectoral injury and he controlled the tempo as Nathan Brown’s men snapped a three-game losing streak.
The Eels were at times woeful, repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot, and at other times brilliant with the ball in hand.
In a thrilling finish, Bevan French was denied the match-winner with 34 seconds remaining when he was ruled to have put a foot on the touch line chasing down a Corey Norman grubber kick.
When Jarryd Hayne drifted across field to find a flying Bevan French who chipped for Mitchell Moses, the Eels were up 10-0 after 10 minutes.
But they quickly slipped into old habits and by half-time had racked up eight errors with their first term summed up when Cameron King punched himself in the face and Clint Gutherson missed a conversion from in front.
Pearce kick-started the home side’s fight-back when he grubbered behind the line and Connor Watson dislodged the ball from Gutherson.
Daniel Saifiti, returning from a foot injury, was immense, coming up with a series of bone-rattling tackles and popping an offload in traffic for Shaun Kenny-Dowall’s try that levelled things up.
And when Brad Takairangi came flying out of the line, he opened up a giant hole for Pearce to run in under the posts and give the Knights the lead for the first time at 16-10.
The Eels got back on level pegging when Hayne busted through three tackles and turned it inside for Corey Norman, who ran 60 metres to score.
A Ken Sio penalty goal gave the Knights back the lead at 18-16, which they never surrendered.