Cronulla beat Parramatta 24-18 yesterday, securing their first five-game NRL winning streak since 2008 to move into the top four.
In a compelling battle at Toyota Stadium, Cronulla winger Stewart Mills scored the only try of the second half, from a sensational Todd Carney cut-out pass, to give the Sharks a well-deserved victory after the teams had gone into halftime 18-18.
For much of the time, it appeared as if the match was simply a backdrop for two of the competition's premier players to go head to head, producing magical plays, big hits and even a ridiculous flick pass.
Carney controlled the game beautifully, throwing spiral cut-out passes, setting up two tries and leaving the match with the two competition points - but still, he couldn't top the brilliance of Parramatta's Jarryd Hayne.
Even on a losing side, Hayne was at times untouchable, scoring two tries while setting up a third with a sublime pass for Cheyse Blair's first-half try.
If not for Hayne, Parramatta would not have been in the contest - with him, they were a chance to secure just their second win of the season until the final play of the game.
Mooted as the potential NSW five-eighth, a jersey Carney also covets, Hayne continued to excel in his hybrid role at the Eels.
After just five minutes, the 24-year-old took the ball at second receiver off a scrum and forced his way over the tryline.
He then marshalled a comeback before halftime after the Eels had fallen behind 18-6, with tries to Ben Pomeroy, Matthew Wright and Jason Bukuya giving the Sharks the advantage.
Perhaps his finest moment came in the 33rd minute, when he popped an incredible flick pass to Esi Tonga, who put Blair over in the corner for Chris Sandow to convert.
Then, with just 60 seconds before the break, Hayne reprised his fullback role, leaping high to grab a Sandow cross kick to touch down next to the posts and level the scores.
Unfortunately for Hayne, he didn't have an answer to the rock solid Cronulla defensive line, which held firm under immense pressure in the final 15 minutes as they clung on to a well-earned win.
Meanwhile, an injury-ravaged Wests Tigers ended a run of five successive defeats with a comfortable 30-0 away win over Penrith.
First-half tries from Adam Blair, Tim Moltzen and Ray Cashmere laid the foundations for the win against a woeful Panthers side. AAP