The Dyldam Parramatta Eels have gone down to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in a chilly Heritage Round 19 clash at ANZ Stadium.
The Eels were under pressure early after Junior Paulo fumbled the kick-off, only to recover and then get pushed over the sideline. The ensuing set saw the Bulldogs front rower James Graham dive over the line, only to be denied by the video referee for an offside play.
The Parramatta boys recovered to force a Bulldogs drop out on the next attacking set and at the 10 minute mark were unlucky not to score after a nice attacking move down the right wing with Corey Norman passing on his inside to a flying Ryan Morgan who was pulled down mere metres from the Bulldogs line.
Both teams were pushing the opposition’s line, but following a Sam Kasiano knock-on near the Eels goal line, Anthony Watmough took the pass from the scrum base and ran 45 metres before being chased down. Semi Radradra then gave himself every chance to score after taking a bomb on the full, only to be pulled down just short.
It was Origin representative, Trent Hodkinson, who made the incisive break in the 21st minute with a show and go, slicing through the Eels defence and passing off to Frank Pritchard for the opening try of the match.
The Eels were making strides down the middle of the park with strong running from David Gower and Junior Paulo as were the Morris brothers for the Bulldogs.
With just minutes remaining in the half, the Eels threw the ball around close to the Bulldogs line and thanks to some smart offloads and good hands, the Eels delivered the ball out to the winger of the moment, Semi Radradra, who dived full length into the left corner for his 17th try of the season. Chris Sandow missed the conversion from the sideline and the score finished at 6-4 in favour of the Bulldogs at the halftime break.
The Eels would have been hoping to come out and prove themselves early in the second half, but a bomb to Radradra’s wing couldn’t quite be cleaned up and just minutes later it was Pritchard for the Bulldogs who scored his double off a kick from Josh Reynolds.
The duo of Chris Sandow and Semi Radradra on the left wing attempted to make inroads, but the Bulldogs were next to score with Josh Jackson crossing in the 52nd minute stepping through the Eels defensive line.
The attack from the Eels was not quite clicking tonight with passes going astray and kicks not quite landing on the spot, although some clever inside passing in the middle of the field did gain valuable metres.
Parramatta’s woes were compounded when Corey Norman limped off in the 60th minute with a suspected PCL injury to his right knee. Three minutes later, the Bulldogs fullback Brett Morris regathered a chip kick to sprint 80 metres for a try that broke the back of the Eels, giving the Bulldogs a 24-4 lead after the successful conversion.
The last fifteen minutes couldn’t change the Eels fortunes although the Bulldogs did throw away multiple chances to score through bad options and dropped ball, highlighted by a fumble from Josh Morris with an open try line in sight, after his brother made another clean break.
A last minute try from Curtis Rona not only sealed a disappointing night for the Eels players and their fans but ensured he would be remain tied with Radradra for the season try scoring tally.
Parramatta Eels 4 (Radradra try)
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 28 (Pritchard 2, Jackson, B. Morris, Rona tries; Hodkinson 4 goals)