The Dyldam Parramatta Eels have been defeated 46-20 by the Melbourne Storm in a dramatic encounter at AAMI Park that saw halfback Chris Sandow sin-binned in the second half.
Sandow was in fine form with the football, but his questioning of the referees on-field saw the Eels play ten minutes of their Round 15 clash with just 12 men, while the Blue and Gold also lost prop Lee Mossop before the break with a shoulder injury.
The Storm were dominant early, opening the scoring after just 5 minutes through a cut-out pass from Billy Slater to Sisa Waqa on the right edge. Ben Roberts came close, only to be denied by the Eels defence.
And while the Eels had early position, they were unable to find the line, as Ben Hampton picked up a tricky bounce to send Billy Slater over and open up a 10-0 lead.
Hinchcliffe broke through the Parramatta defensive line to set up a second try for Slater, and with the help of Cameron Smith’s boot, extend their lead to 18 points.
Late in the half as the Eels began to find their attacking rhythm, a big break by Hayne moved the Eels upfield, putting Pauli Pauli in position to offload to Chris Sandow, through to Ryan Morgan, who stepped three defenders to score.
And with just 30 seconds on the clock the Eels added another courtesy of a huge cut-out pass from Corey Norman to Semi Radradra in the corner.
Back after the break with a little momentum, forward Dave Gower was placed on report for a crusher tackle on Bryan Norrie, and the penalty left the Storm in position for Billy Slater to kick in goal and give Waqa his second try of the day.
Earning back a weight of possession, the Eels at last spread the ball wide midway through the half for winger Vai Toutai to narrow the Storm’s lead back to 8 points, but once halfback Chris Sandow was placed in the sin bin for questioning the referee’s integrity, the floodgates opened on the scoreboard.
Attacking against just 12 men, the Storm sent through Kurt Mann for a double, Bryan Norrie through under the posts, and Jordan McLean over to take a commanding 46-16 lead.
A late try from Ryan Morgan was too little, too late, for the Eels.
Melbourne Storm - 46 (Mann 2, Waqa 2, Slater 2, Norrie, McLean. Roberts: 1/1, Smith: 6/7)
Dyldam Parramatta Eels - 20 (Morgan 2, Radradra, Toutai. Sandow: 2/4)