Sharks win heart-stopper over Eels

Steve Zemek
The Sharks held out a spirited Eels fightback. Pic: Getty

The loss of Wade Graham to a worrying hamstring injury has soured Cronulla's heart-stopping 22-20 NRL defeat of Parramatta on Saturday night.

The Eels were on the cusp of what would have been one of the great modern comebacks after posting three tries in the final five minutes through David Gower, Michael Jennings and Mitchell Moses.

Moses had a conversion attempt after the siren to even the scores but it sailed left of the uprights.

The Eels were rarely in the match in the second half, due to some horrible ball control, but set up a grandstand finish before having their two-game winning streak snapped.

Graham left Southern Cross Group Stadium in just the 27th minute after reaggravating the left hamstring problem which kept him out the last fortnight and did not return.

With Luke Lewis (calf) and Paul Gallen (knee) out, it's not only the last thing the Sharks needed, it also puts the NSW back-rower in doubt for the June 6 State of Origin series opener.

Before he limped off, Graham was a standout, with his running and kicking game giving the Sharks a dimension they've lacked over the last two weeks.

The Sharks shook off a nervous final few minutes to notch their third victory on the bounce and vault into the top eight for the first time this year.

With his fellow senior forwards forced to watch on, Andrew Fifita was inspirational with 165 metres, 30 tackles in a 70-minute effort.

After Sosaia Feki bagged a double in the first 27 minutes, Valentine Holmes cannoned through a hole to put Chad Townsend over to make it 16-4 at the break.

The Sharks sealed the two points seven minutes after halftime with a set play down the short side which saw Edrick Lee stroll over to make it 20-4.

For the Eels, it leaves them languishing in last spot and extinguishes the optimism that rose to the surface after two wins in their previous two.