NRL 2019: Shaun Johnson out injured as Sharks fall to Eels

The Cronulla Sharks missed the presence of halfback Shaun Johnson as they slumped to a 24-12 NRL defeat against the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium.

Already missing skipper Paul Gallen (ribs) and Matt Moylan (hamstring), Cronulla also lost Aaron Woods to injury also.

For the Eels, who were without five-eighth Dylan Brown, halfback Mitchell Moses steered the ship as he had a hand in three of his side's four tries.

At a time when NSW State of Origin incumbent halves Nathan Cleary and James Maloney are struggling for form, the often-maligned Moses has turned in a performance which will do his representative ambitions no harm.             

Moses was the orchestrator in the second half, setting up both of Michael Jennings' tries to seal the win.            

Injured Sharks halfback Shaun Johnson.
Injured Sharks halfback Shaun Johnson. Photo credit: AAP

The Eels led 12-6 at halftime but the Sharks controversially evened up when Sosaia Feki crossed off a set play four minutes after the resumption.   

The previous play, Josh Morris threw the ball inside and it was picked up by Moses, however the Eels' number was called back after his side were penalised for dragging the Sharks' centre into touch.    

But the Eels took the lead again when Josh Dugan made a mess trying to clean up a Moses grubber and Jennings grounded it.           

The home side iced the game - their final at ANZ Stadium before their move to the new Bankwest Stadium - when Moses ran it down the short side and threw a cut-out pass to Blake Ferguson who put Jennings over.  

Ferguson continued his purple patch of form (229m, one try assist, two line breaks, three tackle busts), while Clint Gutherson (227 metres, three tackle busts) was also influential.               

After taking seven rounds to record their first win last year, the Eels are a different outfit in 2019 and are 3-1 through the opening month.              

The result leaves the Sharks at 2-2, however they have been hit hard by injury.

Following Johnson's late withdrawal, Kyle Flanagan was called in for his second first-grade game.             

Sharks debutant Bronson Xerri showed plenty of promise and speed when he outran Gutherson, who looked likely to score after the Parramatta fullback toed through an open ball.  

AAP