The Dyldam Parramatta Eels have beaten the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 20-6 in a thumping match at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.
The two old rivals traded sets to open the game, before the Blue and Gold began to apply pressure in attack, as five-eighth Corey Norman made a break down the left edge in the third minute, bombing to his winger Semi Radradra. A penalty in the fifth minute for holding Jennings down in the tackle gave Parramatta an opportunity, but three back-to-back penalties for the home side forced the Eels to test their defensive mettle.
A one-on-one strip from second-rower Kenny Edwards on Bulldogs Captain James Graham wrestled back momentum and send the Eels downfield for one of the most spectacular four-pointers of the season so far. As halfback Kieran Foran sent another bomb up for Radradra, the towering winger leapt to collect the ball, tripped over a prone Will Hopoate, and popped the football up from the ground to his centre Michael Jennings, who swept through for his first ever try in Blue and Gold.
In a half characterised by brutal defence, Eels lock Tepai Moeroa was sent down the tunnel in the 16th minutes for tests following a tackle by Aidan Tolman, but was cleared to return to the field.
Radradra came close for a four-pointer of his own in the 19th minute as the Eels found touch 25 metres out on the back of a penalty for a Bulldogs flop in the tackle. Playing left, the cut out pass hit Radradra on the left edge, who powered to the line, and rolled over some grasping Bulldogs defence into the in-goal only to be denied by the Bunker for losing possession.
The Eels defence held fast for the second 20 minutes of play, holding out set after Bulldogs set, and pushing again and again for their own trying. Beau Scott fell short on the right edge, while Jennings was denied a second for a forward pass, and with just 3 minutes on the clock Tepai Moeroa was called back for obstruction.
Holding a slim 6-0 advantage after the break, the Eels struggled to find fluency in their opening attacking sets, mirrored by a disjointed Bulldogs attack, and when the Blue and Gold were gifted a penalty in the 50th minute courtesy of a David Klemmer strip, the Captain pointed to the goalposts. With a successful penalty goal from Michael Gordon, the visitors stretched their lead to 8-0.
As the Bulldogs found space on the right edge in the 57th minute, Sam Perrett scooped up a loose ball only to be denied by the Bunker. The Eels had their opportunities in return, only to be turned back by the Bulldogs’ goal line defence. As Eels Club Captain Tim Mannah and Bulldogs prop Sam Kasiano left the field for attention following a head clash, Jennings made his presence felt again with a swift break up the left edge.
Norman headed in field with a deft offload to Semi Radradra in support for the winger to score his first try of the 2016 season, and Gordon converted easily for a 14-0 lead.
The big winger doubled up with a massive solo effort from 35 metres out, shrugging off two defenders mid-flight and handing the Eels an 18-point lead with just 6 minutes on the clock.
A third conversion from Gordon put the game well and truly out of reach, despite a late four-pointer to Bulldogs fullback Will Hopoate, who converted his own try in the dying minutes.
Dyldam Parramatta Eels - 20 (Jennings, Radradra 2. Gordon: 3/3. Penalty Goals - Gordon: 1/1)
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs - 6 (Hopoate. Hopoate: 1/1)