The Dyldam Parramatta Eels have defeated the Penrith Panthers 10-4 in a grinding game at TIO Stadium in Darwin tonight.
In difficult conditions up north, both sides struggled to find their rhythm at the start of the game, as the Panthers completed the first set of the night in the third minute of play before forcing a line drop out soon after.
The Panthers looked to have the first points of the game through winger Waqa Blake, however Blake was unable to find the line as Eels winger Semi Radradra pushed him out of touch before the ball was grounded.
It wasn’t long before the visitors continued to build pressure, as a kick from Jamie Soward forced a line drop out 10 minutes in.
With back-to-back penalties and four more line drop outs, the visitors were unable to break Parramatta’s defence as they struggled to convert all their possession into points.
After 10 minutes of attack in hot conditions, the Panthers finally found some space on the right wing, as James Segeyaro set up his winger Waqa Blake who, this time, crossed in the corner in the 18th min. Soward was unable to add the extras and the Eels trailed 4-0 after a mountain of possession against them in the opening 19 minutes.
The Eels were back on the attack shortly after receiving a penalty, however, they would have to continue the night without Will Hopoate, who left the field with a hamstring injury forcing a back line reshuffle that saw Manu Ma'u playing at right centre.
The final minutes of the first half saw the Eels in good attacking position. After a push and a shove between the two teams, the Eels received a penalty however Luke Kelly’s attempted penalty kick was waved away, sending the visitors into the sheds with a 4-0 lead at the break.
The Eels entered the second half of play with plenty of enery and enthusiasm and it turned into points when winger Semi Radradra made a break down the sideline providing the Blue and Gold with attacking field position. As the Panthers made an error, the Eels capitalised. Brad Takairangi was able to create space for Radradra who flew down the sideline and scored for the Eels in the 45th minute. Kelly missed the goal and the score remained locked at 4-4.
The next 30 minutes of play was dictated by the errors and lack of completions from both teams as they struggled to build any type of pressure in attack.
As the errors kept building, both teams began showing frustration however the Eels remained strong in defence.
Junior Paulo was instrumental in Paramatta’s attack, as he led his team forward making good metres up the field along with leading try scorer Semi Radradra back to his brilliant best.
With five minutes remaining with the scores locked at 4-4, someone had to come up with a play to get their team over the line. Reece Robinson was that man for the Eels as he then picked up the ball with urgency from dummy half, looked up to find no makers and ran 80 metres to put his side in front for the first time in the game. Kelly converted which put the Eels 10-4 ahead with minutes remaining.
The Panthers were on the attack in the last minute howver the Eels were able to hold off the visitors from hitting back, coming away with the two points in a grinding game in Darwin.
Eels 10 (Radradra, Robinson. Kelly 1/3)
Panthers 4 (Blake. Soward 0/1)