Penrith Panthers earn first win of 2024 NRL season over Parramatta Eels, Cronulla Sutherland Sharks beat Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs

Penrith Panthers earn first win of 2024 NRL season over Parramatta Eels, Cronulla Sutherland Sharks beat Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs

Saturday 16/03/2024
Clint Gutherson was left upset by a number of referee calls.(Getty Images: Jason McCawley)

Defending premiers Penrith has won its first game of 2024, beating Parramatta 26-18 in a brutal Round 2 NRL clash at Panthers stadium.

However, Eels coach Brad Arthur bemoaned "a few calls" that went against his side during an absorbing contest.

"There were a couple of big moments that didn't go our way, which wasn't great," Arthur said.

"Not a lot went right for us with a few calls I reckon."

Panthers five-eighth Jarome Luai was placed on report twice in the first half, with J'maine Hopgood also drawing the ire of referee Ashley Klein in a fiercely competitive contest.

Luai collected Bailey Simonsson with a high shot inside the opening minute that knocked the Eels winger out of the match — and caused issues there on out for Parramatta, who struggled on their left edge throughout.

"Simo, he couldn't remember what happened, so it was a fair knock to his head," Arthur confirmed after the match.

The Panthers five-eighth also tripped Mitch Moses 20 minutes into the game to earn a second reprimand from the referee in a tremendous first half in which the two sides shared six tries.

The Panthers later lost James Fisher-Harris to a shoulder injury after a ferocious collision with Reagan Campbell-Gillard, while the Eels saw Kelma Tuilagi depart with a suspected dislocated shoulder late in the contest.

Joey Lussick dived over to open the scoring for the visitors after just two minutes, before tries to Dylan Edwards and Moses Leota scored to put the Panthers in front.

Shaun Lane hit back for the Eels, who took the lead into half-time thanks to a last-gasp try to Hopgood at the end of the opening 40.

Sunia Turuva scored either side of the half-time break to give the Panthers the ascendancy once more — the second thanks to a pin-point kick from lock Isaah Yeo.

Izack Tago sealed the victory with more than a quarter of the match remaining, as both teams struggled to convert their chances in thedying embers of an absorbing contest that saw Penrith record its first win over the Eels in a regular season game since 2021.

The Eels coach though, said his side were hard done by and that there were "some new rule changes that need being enforced".

"You can't jump in blokes when they are catching the ball, you can't be downtown in front of kicks whether it's a try scoring opportunity of not," he said.

"But it is what it is."

Eels coach Clint Gutherson said, "rules are rules, we probably thought we got dudded by a couple of them.".

Sharks outlast brave Bulldogs in fiery contest

Braydon Trindall levelled the scores for the Sharks before half-time.(Getty Images: Mark Metcalfe)

Earlier, Cronulla fought hard to beat Canterbury-Bankstown in a fractious contest 25-6 at a packed Shark Park.

The victory sees the Sharks move to 2-0 to start a season for the first time since 2008, while the Bulldogs slipped to 0-2.

An intense game in the Shire saw the sides locked together at 6-6 at half-time, with neither side willing to give an inch before the Dogs finally tired late in the second half.

However, Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo was left fuming at some questionable calls that he felt went against his side.

"I'm going to have to send them [the NRL some video clips] in this week and get some clarity on some of them because there's just so many of them," he said.

"I felt like that last year, but we were hurting ourselves last year and we didn't have that same level of effort.

"Now I have that level of effort from our guys, I want to get the fair calls and for us to get what we deserve."

Referee Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski was seemingly unable to control the players with multiple incidents spilling over into multiple incidents throughout the match.

"Our blokes decided to stick up for themselves instead of blokes pushing them in the back that I've been seeing lately," Ciraldo said.

"They showed that connection and they said they wouldn't allow themselves to be bullied."

Blake Wilson opened the scoring for the Dogs, who had lost prop Poasa Faamausili in the opening minute to a concussion.

That came while the Sharks were down to 12 men after Briton Nikora was sent to the bin for a late, shoulder shot to the head of Viliame Kikau.

Once the two teams were back at 12-each though, the Sharks had the better of it.

Braydon Trindall levelled the scores in the first half, before Sione Katoa, Ronaldo Mulitalo and Teig Wilson all crossed, with Nicho Hynes scoring a late field goal.

Hynes was brilliant, four kicks from four, 116 running metres and — and this is what I found most impressive — 23 tackles, a lot of them hugely important.

Story By: Simon Smale

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