Young Eels come back to topple Raiders
The Dyldam Parramatta Eels Under 20s side has put on 30 unanswered points in the second half for a 34-20 win over the Canberra Raiders at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday.
With fullback Bevan French ruled out after dislocating his elbow in Round 5, Dean Matterson joined Troy Dargan in the halves for the young Eels, while Michael Doolan stepped back into the number one jersey.
Both sides made an immediate impact, with the Eels’ second-rower Tyrell Fuimaono crossing in the 3rd minute, only to be denied for a penalty.
Raiders centre Chevi Ellis answered back in the 5th, powering his way across the line in the corner to open the scoring.
Fuimaono was impressive in defence, forcing a Raiders error on their own 20-metre line with a monster hit, and the Blue and Gold rolled upfield. Putting on a slick backine movement, the home side sent the ball from Troy Dargan to Michael Doolan for a cut-out pass to Jermaine Mati-Leifi over out wide.
Back-to-back penalties lifted the Raiders out of their own end and inside the 30-metre line, with fullback Thomas Cronan adding another four points from a centre offload.
Dargan continued to apply pressure with his kicking game on the last, and winger Kelepi Manu slipped past in the corner in the 31st minute, but the Blue and Gold were denied for obstruction.
Raiders forward Jordan Aiono-Fatu, on the end of a nice short ball from hooker Zac Woolford, extended the Raiders lead, and erorrs crept in for both sides as the clock ticked down to halftime.
Back-to-back penalties again gave Canberra a leg up, and Jack Hickson found the tryline in the corner just before the buzzer from a Chevi Ellis short offload, sending the Raiders back to the sheds with a 20-4 lead.
Coming out powerfully in the second forty, the Blue and Gold were looming on the tryline in the 42nd minute before a heavy hit forced a knock on and turnover.
A Troy Dargan chip from left to right in the 47th minute was batted back by a high-flying Fuimaono for Mason Cerruto to ground for four points, and just minutes later Dane Aukafolau crossed out wide on the end of a Dean Matterson to Dargan to Doolan movement.
Doolan added his own four-pointer in the 59th minute, diving over from short range, and putting the Eels just 2 points behind the young Raiders with 21 minutes on the clock.
Jack Morris slipped through the Raiders line for a bustling run that put the home side inside Raiders territory, and after Doolan came close to the line in field, the Blue and Gold spread the ball right to hit Fuimaono for a try, and hit the lead for the first time in the match.
Tui Oloapu put the Eels further in front, taking a Matt Price pass, and stepping two to score under the posts. And in the dying minutes, Michael Doolan stepped through the defence to plant it out wide and cap off a comprehensive comeback.
Dyldam Parramatta Eels – 34 (Mati-Leifi, Cerruto, Aukafolau, Doolan 2, Fuimaono, Oloapu. Dargan:1/4 Mati-Leifi: 2/3)
Canberra Raiders - 20 (Ellis, Cronan, Aiono-Fatu, Hickson. Woolford: 2/4)