Sharks win heart-stopper over Eels in NRL

Steve Zemek
Sosaia Feki's double has helped Cronulla to a 22-20 NRL win over Parramatta

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

The Eels were on the cusp of what would have been one of the great modern comebacks on Saturday night 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 at Southern Cross Group Stadium due to some horrible ball control but set up a grandstand finish before having their two-game winning streak snapped.

Graham left the field in just the 27th minute after re-aggravating the left hamstring problem that kept him out the past fortnight.

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 during the past 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 165m, 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.

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan revealed Scott Sorensen, who was only called in on game day for Jayson Bukuya after he was hospitalised with a virus, suffered a suspected broken hand.

"It was like a horror movie that last eight minutes," Flanagan said.

"It just goes to show that when teams get momentum, it's hard to stop. The first try was pretty soft, two blokes missed a tackle there.

"We should have defended the kick and the last try, those things happen when you're in scramble mode.

"But we should have stopped the first two tries."

Asked if he took solace his side being able to score three tries in five minutes against one of the grittiest defensive sides in the comp, Eels coach Brad Arthur said: "Yeah, but it only makes us more frustrated.

"I keep saying it, we didn't give ourselves a chance. At one stage in the second half we'd made 170 tackles or something to 60. You just can't do it."