Moylan return gives Sharks NRL bite

Matt Moylan (left) offered plenty in his return for the Sharks.
Matt Moylan (left) offered plenty in his return for the Sharks.

Cronulla are primed for an assault on the NRL top four after the scintillating return of Matt Moylan sparked them to a local derby win and back into the top eight.

Playing in his first game in seven weeks due to a hamstring injury, Moylan had a hand in two tries in the Sharks' 22-9 win over St George Illawarra on Sunday.

Cronulla were a vastly more dangerous side with their star fullback on the park, adding the polish to his combination with Kyle Flanagan and Chad Townsend.

The victory not only lifted Cronulla to eighth spot, but gives coach John Morris a selection headache when Shaun Johnson returns after next week's bye.

Morris predicted a slower start from his first-choice No.1 in Wollongong, but his creativity appeared to kickstart the Sharks' weapons in attack.

Rookie Bronson Xerri was the main beneficiary, finishing with his first hat trick.

"(Moylan) helps our halves, and Chad and Kyle to be a bit more composed with their shapes in attack," Morris said post-game.

"And just that x-factor around him. The boys get more belief and confidence with Matty Moylan in our side. It was a good comeback.

"He spent seven weeks on the sideline with a pretty decent hamstring injury, so it's hearts in your mouth - when's the right time to return him to play.

"He could've played last week but I'm real happy in our decision to rest him from last week to make sure we got a better outcome today from him."

Newcastle were the other big movers in round 11, jumping to fourth spot for the first time in Nathan Brown's tenure after upsetting the Sydney Roosters 38-12.

South Sydney remain atop the ladder after a comfortable 32-16 victory over the Wests Tigers, with Melbourne on their tails following their 28-6 rout of Canterbury.

Penrith got off the bottom of the table with an ugly 16-10 win over Parramatta in the opening match of the round, North Queensland also upset Canberra 22-16.

Gold Coast took the heat off coach Garth Brennan with a 36-18 victory over Manly, and Brisbane kept the Warriors tryless in their 8-2 triumph on the road.

Next week, the Panthers host the Sea Eagles, the Eels face the Rabbitohs, the Bulldogs meet the Raiders and the Titans tackle the Cowboys.

The other eight teams have the bye.

Australian Associated Press