The Dyldam Parramatta Eels have withstood a Penrith Panthers second half fightback to claim a six point victory over their rivals at Pepper Stadium tonight.
The Eels had entered the halftime sheds with a 14 point lead, but after three tries to the home side in the opening fifteen minutes of the second half, the score board was level and it took two tries to Semi Radradra in the second half for the Blue and Gold to lock up the two points.
The Blue and Gold came out firing in the opening minutes, and if Will Hopoate had any soreness from Wednesday’s State of Origin game it didn’t show, firing a no-look pass to Ryan Morgan to score in the right corner in the opening four minutes.
Chris Sandow lined up the conversion and it sailed through the uprights.
The Eels showed their expansive attacking football on their left edge just moments later, with Semi Radradra making a 30-metre run from a cut-out ball from Reece Robinson, who collected the return pass to score himself.
The Panthers copped some bad luck with Matt Moylan leaving the field with an ankle injury 10 minutes into the game, likely facing a stint on the sidelines.
After trading sets, the Panthers looked close to scoring their first points, but some desperate Hopoate defence saw Waqa Blake spill the ball over the tryline.
Chris Sandow added to the Eels’ scoreline with a penalty goal in the 30th minute, going into the sheds at the break ahead 14-0.
The Panthers showed their grit and clawed their way back in the second half with a very strong 20 minutes.
Second-rower Isaah Yeo scored after some quality legwork from hooker James Segerayo, but it came at an injury cost to the Panthers five-eighth Jamie Soward.
Bryce Cartwright pulled an incredible pass out of nowhere to hit David Simmons on the left edge, with Wallace unable to add the extras.
Cartwright added a try of his own in the 58th minute, following some lightning hands on the Panthers’ left edge.
Wallace maintained composure and equalled the scores with a conversion from near the sideline.
Semi Radradra put the Eels back in front with a blinder of a run and pass out to Brad Takairangi, who grubbed the ball back to the winger who regathered and slid over.
The Semitrailer added a second try three minutes later, flying over the left corner from a bullet pass from halfback Chris Sandow, who once again slotted the conversion.
The Panthers weren’t finished, with Dallin Watene-Zeleozniak coming up with a big play in the 70th minute, scoring a try on the right wing, with Wallace successful in the conversion.
But the Eels held their nerve and outlasted the Penrith onslaught to claim a 26-20 win.
Parramatta Eels 26 (Radradra 2, Morgan, Robinson tries, Sandow 4 goals, 1 pen goal)
Penrith Panthers 20 (Yeo, Simmons, Cartwright, Watene-Zelezniak tries, Wallace 1 goal)