NRL 2023: Eels facing disaster after heartbreaker against Sharks

They were 80 minutes away from ending the longest premiership drought in the NRL last year, but the Eels are now facing a potential 0-5 start to the season after losing to Cronulla with some brutal matches on the horizon.

The 30-26 loss at home on Friday night is a nightmare result for a Parramatta side that heads north to take on Manly next week before a grand final rematch against the Penrith Panthers and then a showdown at Allianz Stadium against the Roosters.

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They will start outsiders in all three of those games with last year’s dream run a distant memory after blowing golden opportunities against weakened opposition in both of their games to start the season.

Mitch Moses had the crowd on its feet when he dummied to score late in the first half and then trimmed the margin to four points when he backed up a J’maine Hopgood break, but it was an otherwise quiet night for him and halves partner Dylan Brown.

It’s impossible to pin the losses on his contract negotiations but surely a resolution one way or the other would allow everyone to focus entirely on footy and not have to deal with constant media speculation.

The halfback is clearly trying his hardest and showed that when he chased down Ronaldo Mulitalo in open pastures, but even that effort counted for nothing as Will Kennedy strolled over one play later to complete his hat-trick.

Eels coach Brad Arthur said: “You can’t have five tries scored against you and be happy with the performance.

“But I thought the effort was there. We need to make sure we keep playing with the effort. But some big moments at crucial times cost us.”

Of the draw coming up, Arthur said: “It’s not ideal but it’s a challenge for us.”

It’s a heartbreaking result for the Eels with such a brutal run ahead in a match that had the commentators raving.

As for the Sharks, the win gets the side back on track after a hard-fought loss to the Rabbitohs

Craig Fitzgibbon still doesn’t know exactly when Nicho Hynes will return from his calf injury, but the Sharks coach will eventually face a tough decision when that day comes.

The Dally M medallist is an obvious pick at halfback but Braydon Trindall’s form to start the season makes him a tempting pick to shift to five-eighth.

Trindall has been fantastic in the No.7 jersey and laid on Cronulla’s opening two tries to Briton Nikora and Will Kennedy before Moylan gave the visitors the lead at the break when he set up his fullback for a first-half double.

It was a gutsy win by the Sharks who avoided an 0-2 start to the season to continue Fitzgibbon’s incredible record where they haven’t lost consecutive matches under his leadership in the regular season.

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