The young Dyldam Parramatta Eels have been defeated 24-16 by the top-of-the-table Penrith Panthers on Sunday in their Round 19 match up at Pepper Stadium.
The Blue and Gold Holden Cup side welcomed back Atini Gafa on the wing, but it was fullback Mason Cerruto who opened the scoring.
Eleven minutes in, Cerruto slipped through the gap in the Penrith defensive line to put the Eels four points up, and five-eighth Michael Doolan added the extras with a neat conversion.
The Panthers answered back with a pass from Reed Izzard, to five-eighth Tyrone May for a cut-out pass to their centre, letting winger Ratu Tuisese find an overlap on the left edge to score.
Tyrone May set up the Panthers’ second of the day with a slicing run and offload to second-rower Jack Hetherington to find the tryline. Halfback Jerome Luai slotted his first conversion of the match for a 10-6 lead mid-way through the first half.
In the 33rd minute, Hetherington found space on the sideline and brushed over the defence to score his second four-pointer for the round, extending the Panthers lead to 14-6.
Blue and Gold Fullback Mason Cerruto continued to make an impact in attack, powering over out wide in the 43rd minute for a second try, while Doolan converted again to narrow the Panthers’ lead to just two points.
Cerruto crossed again 56 minutes in to make it a hat trick, and edge the Eels in front, 16-14.
But the home side seized all the momentum on the run home, and after coming close to scoring - denied for a knock on - they found the line and the lead in the 63rd minute with a Reed Izzard try.
Tuisese added one more four-pointer in the 70th minute to put the game out of reach, seal the 24-16 win, and solidify the Panthers’ position at the top of the Holden Cup ladder.
Penrith Panthers - 24 (Tuisese 2, Hetherington 2, Izzard. Luai: 2/5)
Dyldam Parramatta Eels - 16 (Cerruto 3. Doolan: 2/3)