Hayne ‘Plane’ grounded
26 March, 2018, 12:00 am
JARRYD Hayne’s return to fullback in front of his beloved Parramatta fans for the first time in four years lasted just 29 minutes, with the outside back injured in the side’s 14-4 loss to the Cronulla Sharks at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
The Hayne ‘Plane” was grounded in the opening half with the 30-year-old limping from the field with a muscle strain around the hip region as the Sharks secured their first win of the year.
Fresh off a 54-0 onslaught to Manly, things were looking grim early for the Eels as Shane Flanagan’s men raced to an 8-0 lead.
Sharks skipper Paul Gallen brushed aside any questions about a foot injury in the lead-up to the contest to pop a late offload for Jayson Bukuya to break through the line and send Chad Townsend over in the 15th minute.
Parramatta responded immediately with a four-pointer out wide to Kirisome Auva’a, but the Eels’ ill-discipline let them down in the opening half with a 5-0 penalty count against the side not going down well with the Eels faithful as the Sharks slotted two more penalty goals before the break.
The Sharks pressed hard early in the second but failed to extend the lead when Ricky Leutele spilled the ball while attempting to reach out and score.
Parramatta’s injury woes looked to worsen as Tepai Moeroa hobbled from the field, but the back-rower managed to return.
Cronulla then suffered setbacks of their own, losing Bukuya in the second period with muscle tightness in the groin, before fullback Josh Dugan came from the field with a minute remaining with an ankle injury.
Back-to-back penalties in the 51st minute brought upon a bronx cheer from the Eels-dominant crowd as the side received their first penalty, but Parramatta’s lack of potency and poor last-play options was their let down as the Sharks kicked another penalty goal late to secure victory.
Sharks prop Andrew Fifita was enormous for the visitors, with 158 metres in a dominant display as the Sharks retained the Johnny Mannah Cup.