The Dyldam Parramatta Eels Under 20s side is through to the preliminary finals in a fortnight, after a thrilling 32-26 victory over the Brisbane Broncos at 1300Smiles Stadium in Townsville.
The game started with a bang, with Broncos prop Jo Ofahengaue placed on report in the opening minute for a high tackle on Eels lock Jeff Markus, that left him temporarily dazed but remained on the field.
Halfback Zach Dockar-Clay didn’t waste any time, opening the scoring in the Eels’ first set, dummying and zipping in between four defenders to earn his 12th try of the season.
Davis converted the try easily, putting the Blue and Gold in front 6-0 very early on.
The Broncos returned the favour in the 10th minute, with Jordan Drew crashing over near the sideline after finding some space. Five-eighth Duncan Paia’aua added the extras to lock the scores up for what would be the first of five times in the game.
Hooker Kaysa Pritchard showed his toughness five minutes later with a show-and-go from dummy half, outplaying three Broncos defenders to score his first try of the night, with the conversion from Davis unsuccessful after hitting the left upright.
Some quick hands and great ball control from Broncos centre Tom Opacic saw Jack Tuttle crash over on the wing, with the Queensland team nudging ahead for the first time in the game with a successful Paia’aua conversion.
The Eels added another try through John Folau after catching the Broncos defence napping; this time Davis nailed the conversion.
The Broncos were in possession for almost the entire final 15 minutes of the half, putting plenty of pressure on the Blue and Gold line, with Drew getting a result, scoring his second try.
The Eels’ defence was lucky to hold for the final ten minutes, with plenty of attempts from the Broncos leading to nothing, with the scores tied up 16-16 at halftime.
The second half began in a similar fashion to the first, with Kelepi Tanginoa placed on report for an accidental high shot on Jordan Drew that saw him leave the field for a head check.
Alex Barr scored for the Broncos following a massive line break from Paia’aua, with an unsuccessful conversion.
Moments later Ryan Matterson made a successful captain’s challenge on a knock-on call against the Eels, with the ruling overturned - and speedy winger Halauafu Lavaka made the most of the extra chance and scored his 26th try for the season.
Kodi Nikorima showed his ball handling skills, scoring off a grubber kick from halfback Ashley Taylor, with Paia’aua putting the Broncos in front 26-20.
A sensational Eels play saw Halauafu Lavaka make an enormous line break right down the wing, the following play Ryan Matterson somehow found a gap and scored right under posts.
Davis converted to again tie the scores up at 26-26 with ten minutes remaining.
Kelepi Tanginoa makes a bust and looks like going for the line alone like a winger, but offloads the ball to Dockar-Clay, who crashes over in the corner.
A composed Davis nailed the sideline conversion, putting the Blue and Gold in front 32-26 with seven minutes remaining, which was enough to seal the victory.
Parramatta Eels 32 (Dockar-Clay 2, Folau, Pritchard, Matterson, Lavaka tries, Davis 4 goals)
Brisbane Broncos 26 (Drew 2, Tuttle, Taylor, Barr tries, Paia’aua 3 goals)