The Dyldam Parramatta Eels have toughed out an 8-0 win over the Wests Tigers in front of a crowd of 36,112 at ANZ Stadium on Easter Monday.
The scrappy encounter saw just one try scored, three Eels players head to the sheds to be evaluated for signs of concussion, and club Captain Tim Mannah leave the field with a shoulder injury.
Centre Brad Takairangi started proceedings with the kick off, and in the third minute made impact for the Blue and Gold as they came close to opening the scoring. Moving the ball left from Captain Kieran Foran to centre Michael Jennings, ‘Jenko’ slipped two defenders to offload to Semi Radradra, only to see the winger pulled down by James Tedesco just short of the trying in a desperate defensive effort.
Tim Mannah came off second-best in an early tackle, in a half that saw plenty of brutal defence, and left the field early in the match with a shoulder complaint. And when Luke Brooks was penalised in the 8th minute for holding the leg in a tackle on Junior Paulo, Michael Gordon slotted a penalty goal to put Parramatta 2 points in front.
The home side looked likely in the 9th minute, but Takairangi and Foran combined to keep the centre from the tryline, and as the two sides traded sets, they were repelled again and again from the tryline. Aerial attack couldn’t break the try-scoring drought, as Brooks’ bombs to the edges found touch instead of his wingers, and Gutherson’s efforts to collect a Corey Norman bomb saw the ball knocked on instead.
Props Danny Wicks and Junior Paulo were both forced from the field for concussion assessments - Junior following a bruising tackle, and Wicks after making accidental contact with Beau Scott in defence - but both returned to the field.
With both sides pushing up in defence, a slew of handling errors cropped up as the clock wound down to halftime, seeing the Blue and Gold return to the sheds with a slim 2-0 halftime lead.
The halftime break did little to settle the game as, both missing a starting front-rower, the two sides exchanged bruising defence and struggled to keep control of the ball in attack.
53 minutes in, Michael Jennings broke through the defence on from an inside ball but was held up one-on-one by a determined James Tedesco, keeping the game try-less well into its second half.
Just two minutes later, Kyle Lovett collected Eels second-rower Kenny Edwards, forcing the football into Edwards, placing Lovett on report and seeing the Eels move downfield with a touch-finding kick. Edwards was removed from the field for tests, but returned to see out the match.
Prop Junior Paulo broke the line on the next set off a short pass from Foran, reaching out an arm into the in-goal, with an effort that the NRL Bunker ruled a four-pointer but the Wests Tigers fans in ANZ Stadium clearly disagreed with. As Michael Gordon added the extra, the Blue and Gold stepped out to an 8-0 lead with just over 24 minutes on the clock.
The Wests Tigers attack looked dangerous close to the line, while the Blue and Gold continued to hold the line, and the low-scoring encounter turned to the bizarre as Eels’ five-eighth Corey Norman kicked backwards, leaving the Tigers to collect the ball, only to miss out on a certain try as winger Jordan Rankin tripped just short of the line.
The surface also tripped up Parramatta’s Michael Jennings, while the Wests Tigers tripped up their own attack 15 metres out, passing over the sideline and squandering the pressure of four consecutive sets on the Eels’ line.
With five minutes on the clock, a penalty for the Blue and Gold from a Wests Tigers penalty saw Norman find touch five metres out, but the Eels couldn’t extend their lead, posting an 8-0 victory on Easter Monday.
Second-rower Manu Ma’u was placed on report in the 58th minute of the game for a dangerous tackle on Josh Aloiai.
Dyldam Parramatta Eels - 8 (Paulo. Gordon: 1/1. Penalty Goals - Gordon: 1/1
Wests Tigers - 0