A confident Dyldam Parramatta Eels side has notched up a nail-biting 25-18 win over the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
With six minutes on the clock, it was a field goal from halfback Chris Sandow that put the game out of reach for the Broncos, but the match was a thriller in both halves thanks to the free-flowing attack from the Blue and Gold.
After a frenetic start to the first half, it was Corey Norman whose pass sent Sandow into open space. And while Sandow’s offload out wide went astray, centre Will Hopoate was there to clean up the loose ball and score his first try in Blue and Gold colours.
With 6 minutes left in the second half, the developing combination of Norman, Willie Tonga and Semi Radradra on the left edge struck gold. Radradra and Tonga took advantage of Norman’s offload to race down the left sideline, with the big Fijian winger palming off Broncos fullback Ben Barba to score his eighth try of the 2014 season.
But the young Eels side were no match for veteran centre Justin Hodges, who showed some vintage form just before the halftime break to send his winger, Dale Copley, over the try line.
The Broncos returned from the break re-energised, and halfback Ben Hunt wasted no time in dummying to Sam Thaiday and going alone to add four points to Brisbane’s ledger.
But if Eels fans were fearful that their team would return in the second half to play a less expansive game, their fears evaporated as Norman and Radradra offloaded and chip-kicked to make metres, while Jarryd Hayne side-stepped a wrong-footed Josh Hoffman to score from the next play.
It put the Eels back in front but the lead changed twice more in the closing stages of the game.
Bronco Josh McGuire was the lucky man who finally grabbed hold of a loose ball in a messy play to score next to the posts, while teammate Dale Copley was denied a try for a knock on.
And when the Eels once more targeted fullback Ben Barba, and he fumbled the kick-return, the Blue and Gold defence bundled him into the in-goal to earn a repeat set. That was all the opportunity hooker Nathan Peats needed to burrow over from dummy-half and put the Eels back in front.
By the time Sandow had slotted a penalty goal and his 40 metre field goal, the game was out of Brisbane’s reach and the Blue and Gold Army in the south-eastern corner of the stands were on their feet.
Eels - 25 (Hopoate, Radradra, Hayne, Peats. Sandow: 3/4, 1 penalty goal, 1 field goal)
Broncos - 18 (Copley, Hunt, McGuire. Parker: 3/3)