The Dyldam Parramatta Eels have defeated the reigning Premiers, the South Sydney Rabbitohs, in an epic Round 4 battle at Pirtek Stadium on Friday night, with doubles to John Folau and Reece Robinson, and a field goal to Chris Sandow sealing a 29-16 win.
The match started with much intensity when Souths forward Glenn Stewart was put on report in the fourth minute for a crusher tackle on ex-team mate Anthony Watmough.
After repeat sets for South’s and pressure starting to build for the Eels, the Rabbbitohs crossed for the first points of the game, through a run around play which sent Joel Reddy over the line. Adam Reynold’s conversion was successful and the visitors took the lead 6-0.
A solid tackle by Eels halfback Chris Sandow forced Alex Johnston to lose the ball and hand possession back over to Parramatta in good field position.
As a result, John Folau barged through Souths defence to find the line and score his first try in the NRL. Sandow’s conversion was successful and levelled up the score 6-6.
On the other side of the field, Issac Luke stretched over to score but knocked on right on the line.
Chris Sandow was back to his brilliant best, sparking some exciting play and linking with Ryan Morgan gaining metres up the field.
The intensity between these two teams was evident after George Burgess knocked on as a result of a solid tackle from the Eels defence, which sent both teams into a push and shove.
The Eels were awarded a penalty in the 29th minute right in front of the goals and opted to put themselves in front by 2.
A spiralling torpedo kick from Reynolds in the 35th minute saw an error from Will Hopoate, dropping the ball which was then picked up by Johnston and passed to Chris Grevsmuhl who spun out of a tackle to score for the Rabbitohs. Reynolds converted to put Souths back in the lead 12-8.
Just before the half time siren sounded, Sandow ran the ball and shot down the field before passing to Ryan Morgan who dragged in the Souths defenders, giving John Folau room to crash over for his second try of the night. Sandow converted and the Eels went into the sheds ahead 14-12 at the break.
The Eels came out of the blocks fast with Reece Robinson scoring in the corner in the 44th minute. A missed conversion from Sandow kept the score at 18-12.
The Parra chant started to travel through Pirtek Stadium as the Eels found some momentum. Brad Takairangi intercepted a pass in the 50th which gave the Eels some more great field possession. The momentum seemed to rattle the Premiers as errors kept being made and forced Souths to do a great deal of defending.
The Rabbitohs were handed their first chance at repeat sets for the half, trying to break through the Parramatta defence which eventually saw Alex Johnston cross in the corner for his first try of the night. Reynolds’ unsuccessful conversion saw his team trailing the Eels 18-16 with just over 15 minutes remaining.
Reece Robinson then took off down the sideline and as he put in a kick was held back from the ball, gifting his side a penalty.
The Eels made the most of their field position, with Robinson dancing along the sideling, scoring in the corner in the 68th minute to extend Parramatta’s lead to 22-16.
Robinson was later put on report for a dangerous tackle which gave Souths a penalty and had them edging back at Parramatta’s heels as the home side had to defend three repeat sets, until Chris McQueen knocked on just short of the try line with four minutes remaining.
Parramatta’s halfback Chris Sandow put the game out of reach for a Souths comeback, kicking a field goal which took the score to 23-16.
Sandow then scored in the dying seconds of the game, which was the icing on the cake of a courageous battle from the Blue and Gold against the Premiers.
Dyldam Parramatta Eels - 29 (Folau 2, Robinson 2, Sandow. Sandow: 3/5. Penalty Goal - Sandow: 1/1. Field goal - Sandow: 1)
South Sydney Rabbitohs - 16 (Reddy, Grevsmuhl, Johnston. Reynolds: 2/3)