Returning from a bye week, the Dyldam Parramatta Eels Holden Cup side managed a gritty 16-16 draw against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs to maintain a four week unbeaten streak.
The first 20 minutes were an armwrestle as both teams attempted to warm themselves up in the wintery conditions at ANZ Stadium. The Bulldogs made multiple mistakes, but the Eels failed to capitalise on their opportunities.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 23rd minute, as the Bulldogs winger, Marcelo Montoya, managed to find an overlap on the left edge to give the visitors a 4-0 lead.
The Bulldogs extended their lead in the 28th minute, this time on the opposite edge, as centre Michael Morgan, pushed his way through the defence to give the Bulldogs an 8 point advantage. Again, the conversion from Brad Keighran was waved away.
Some positive attacking raids from the Eels, including one involving a cheeky little banana kick from Zach Dockar-Clay, finally lead to the Eels first points scored through Brandon Raeli. The successful conversion from Nathan Davis narrowed the gap to two with six minute to go in the first half.
The Eels were on the back-foot at the start of the second half and the Bulldogs, through winger Montoya again, scored through some smart passing down the left. Keighran’s failed conversion moved the score to 12-6.
Whilst ball handling was an issue in the chilly conditions, the Eels second-rower, Joshua Aloiai held the ball and carried two Bulldogs with him to plant the ball down in the 56th minute. His powerful running standing out in a stop-start game.
In the ensuing set after the kick-off, five-eighth Michael Doolan, made an incisive break in the Bulldogs half, but the grubber kick to his outside men bounced awkwardly, being knocked on with the try-line begging.
In the 66th minute, following a quick tap from the 20 metre line, the Eels advanced down the field swiftly before giving it to Joshua Aloiai, who beat two would-be Bulldog tacklers on the way to the try-line for his second of the evening. Nathan Davis converted to give the Eels their first lead of the game, 16-12.
The Bulldogs hit back in the 76th minute, however, after Reimis Smith scored in the right corner. The conversion attempt to take the lead was unsuccessful and the scores were level, 16 all, with just minutes left on the clock.
Despite a frantic last few minutes from both teams, with a nice break from Nathan Davis down the left edge, the scoreline remained unchanged and ended in a draw. The result sees the Dyldam Parramatta Eels Holden Cup side on a 4 game unbeaten streak, but they might have been hoping to snatch both the points this evening at ANZ Stadium if they had taken advantage of their chances.
Parramatta Eels 16 (Aloiai 2, Raeli tries, Davis 2 goals)
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 16 (Montoya 2, Morgan, Smith tries)