The Dyldam Parramatta Eels have come close to a mighty second-half comeback, drawing 26-26 with the South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.
With steady rain hitting the field, the South Sydney side was quick from the whistle, taking advantage of an Eels error on a 20-metre restart and sending Irae Simone into space on the left edge to open the scoring with a 6-0 lead.
Winger Josh Ellison followed on the opposite side, slicing through the Eels left edge defence to ground the ball in the corner.
In slippery conditions, the Blue and Gold were without Captain Alex Twal, but second-rower Josh Aloiai made his presence felt on his return from a Round 10 appearance in NSW Cup.
The forward carried three defenders cross the line for the Eels’ first points of the night, taking the score to 10-6.
The Blue and Gold contained the young Rabbitohs for a fifteen-minute stretch before the home side ended the opening half with a four-pointer to winger Damon Goolagong on the left edge.
Souths had all the early momentum to open the second half, applying pressure for three consecutive sets before breaking through via halfback Eli Levido in the 45th minute, and later through Liam Coleman.
The Blue and Gold answered back as hooker Denzal Tonise crashed over next to the post, and fullback Nathan Davis kept the comeback dream alive as he found the tryline in the Eastern corner in the 70th minute to narrow the score to 26-18.
Centre Tui Oloapu followed it up with an acrobatic effort on the left edge to narrow the scoreline to 26-22 with just over 5 minutes on the clock, and Suliasi Suli snatched a cut out pass from Davis to even the scores with a try in the dying minutes.
In challenging conditions, Davis couldn’t land the crucial conversion to secure victory, leaving the game tied at 26-26.
South Sydney Rabbitohs - 26 (Simone, Ellison, Goolagong, Levido, Coleman. Simone: 1/2. Talakai: 0/1 Levido: 2/2)
Dyldam Parramatta Eels - 26 (Aloiai, Tonise, Davis, Oloapu, Suli. Davis: 3/5)