The Dyldam Parramatta Eels Holden Cup side has scored a thrilling two point victory, 34-32 over the Cronulla Sharks, to open the Round 25 triple-header on a brilliantly sunny morning at Pirtek Stadium.
A pair of hat-tricks to opposing right wingers highlighted an exciting game from the youngsters.
The game started with a great effort by Mason Cerruto to score what appeared to be a try on the right, but the try was overturned by a Captains Challenge from the Sharks.
Minutes later, however, Alex Twal passed to Zach Dockar-Clay who sprinted 30 metres to open the scoring.
A successful conversion of his own try gave the Eels an early 6-0 lead.
The lead was doubled after some positive play from the young Eels saw a smart short side play leading to Atini Gafa scoring and Dockar-Clay converting again.
The Sharks hit back 2 minutes later with Jack Rogers’ first try of the day down the right side. The conversion was successful.
Following an attacking raid from the Eels, Bevan French was first to a speculative bomb and laid it off for Atini Gafa to score his 2nd try in the first half.
Dockar-Clay again converted to give the Eels an 18-6 lead.
The Eels were attacking the line repeatedly only to be denied by desperate Sharks defence after a great Brandon Raeli break down the middle of the field and a strong effort from Dockar-Clay who was held up over the line.
The Sharks were the next to score however, when Billy Magoulias dived over from a neat inside ball on the right.
Dylan Izzard was taken from the field for a concussion test in the dying moments of the first half and with just 25 seconds remaining, the Sharks’ Jack Rogers scored his 2nd of the half down the right hand side and the successful conversion saw the scores tied at 18 all at the half.
Mason Cerruto started the second half in fine fashion with a try set-up by a clean break from Michael Doolan down the middle of the park.
A captain’s call from the Sharks was unsuccessful this time. The perfect goalkicking continued from both teams as Dylan Izzard, deemed to be able to continue, converted to make the score 24-18.
A desperate tackle from Atini Gafa in the left corner prevented a Sharks try in the 47th minute, but 5 minutes later there was no denying a hat-trick to Jack Rogers after some swift passing down the right side.
The conversion from Cummins clattered against the upright and the Eels retained a slim 24-22 lead.
Several chances went begging from both teams over the following 15 minutes, with handling letting them down, but the next team to hold on to the ball was the Cronulla Sharks, with Jack Williams shrugging off defenders to score in the 66th minute.
The extras gave the Sharks the lead for the first time, 28-24.
It didn’t take long for the Eels to bounce back as good fast hands down the right saw Atini Gafa beat three Sharks to score his hat-trick on the right.
Dockar-Clay missed the conversion, and the score was tied again at 28 all.
In one of the plays of the game, the Sharks’ Jesse Savage ran into open space looking for the left corner only to encounter a miracle tackle from Eels fullback Bevan French, holding him up over the line to save a certain try.
With just four minutes to go, Lachlan Stein scored a try on the right for the visitors, but the conversion was waved away, giving the Eels a sniff of hope.
After a failed short kick-off and handling error from the Sharks, the Eels attacked the line in desperation and their persistence paid off.
Passing to the right, a straight run from Jordan Muna saw him beat the Sharks fullback to dive over and level the scores as the final siren sounded!
Zach Dockar-Clay, cool as a cucumber, piloted the conversion through the posts and the Eels claim victory by just two points, 34-32, in a high scoring and entertaining game!
Parramatta Eels 34 (Gafa 3, Dockar-Clay, Cerruto, Muna; Dockar-Clay 4, Izzard 1 goals)
Cronulla Sharks 32 (Rogers 3, Magoulias, Williams, Stein; Cummins 4 goals)