Graham outstanding as Sharks see off Eels
WADE Graham has re-signed for another two years, now lock him in for life.
Graham secured his future until the end of 2019 during the week but if Cronulla are smart they'll extend that term ASAP with the captain-in-waiting leading his team to victory against Parramatta 20-6 on Saturday night.
With the threat of James Segeryaro sitting on the bench, Jayden Brailey sent the new recruit a message, declaring he's the Sharks' No.9.
With Andrew Fifita offloading to put Wade Graham into space, the workhorse linked with Brailey who posted first points.
Graham then played a hand in their second try by running off the hip of James Maloney and breaking the Eels' defence.
The backrower linked with Ricky Leutele who turned it inside for Sosaia Feki to extend the lead to 10.
There was a scary moment two minutes before halftime, when Graham's leg buckled forcing a stoppage in play.
Hurdling over a teammate as he raced to get back into the defensive line, the 26-year-old landed awkwardly, clutching at his left leg before soldiering on.
David Gower narrowed the gap for the home side when he collected a Corey Norman kick pin-balling off the legs of a Sharks defender.
Playing for the Johnny Mannah Cup, it was a bruising affair with the big hits coming often.
Fifita was nursing a cut above his left eye following the first hit-up of the game, Luke Lewis split his beak and Maloney took a knock from Brad Takairangi which saw him miss two sets.
Manu Ma'u was felled by an eye poke from his teammate Nathan Brown in some friendly fire but he wasn't the only one, with Frank Pritchard's head eating the elbow of Beau Scott.
"Defensively we were back where we needed to be and that was pretty pleasing," Maloney said at fulltime.
"We turned over too much ball and that's an area we need to work on ... we found some holes in them which was pleasing."
Leading by six at the break, Maloney extended the visitors' lead through a penalty goal in the 45th minute.
The older of the Pritchard brothers looked certain to score before Jayson Bukuya's shoulder saw the veteran cough up the ball.
Gallen offloaded to a determined Maloney to score next to the posts and the five-eighth converted his try to extend the lead 20-6.
Segeyaro made his Sharks debut with 20 minutes left to face off against his former housemate Corey Norman, who made his return from a hamstring injury.
"We've only had him out there for one training session. There was a lot of 'what's doing' when he got on," Maloney said of Segeyaro's NRL return.
While Norman played a hand in their only try of the night, there was little the No.7 could do to spark their attack.
Potential Eels recruit Jack Bird wore the No.1 but it was Valentine Holmes who played fullback and even though Bird is not keen on playing centre, he could well win another premiership by staying in the Shire.
With their second win of the season, the Sharks are in the top eight and the title defence ramps up.