Young Eels pip Wests Tigers in thriller
The Dyldam Parramatta Eels Holden Cup side has defeated the fifth-placed Wests Tigers 25-18 on Saturday afternoon at ANZ Stadium, sealing the win with a thrilling last-minute try and after-the-siren conversion.
A see-sawing first half saw the Blue and Gold apply pressure early in attack. Fullback Mason Cerruto grabbed a cross-field kick from halfback Troy Dargan in the 9th minute, offloading to Tom Field who planted the ball but was denied for a knock on.
The home side put first points on the board just 2 minutes later, with prop Alex Twal running onto a beautiful short pass, through the gap, and offloading to Michael Doolan, who ran 30 metres to score.
Doolan converted his own try for a 6-0 lead, but the Wests Tigers answered back 16 minutes in courtesy of Daniel Roberts. The fullback cleaned up a high Eels bomb, sliced through the defensive line and ran the length to outpace Cerruto and score.
Five-eighth Veiru Mapesone’s conversion went wide, but they only had to wait three minutes to add to their tally thanks to centre Tony Tali. In the 25th minute, Obed Karwhin joined him on the scoreboard as the visitors sent the ball to the their right edge and Karwhin scooped up a loose pass that went to ground to score in the corner.
A possible fourth Wests Tigers try was denied in the 38th minute for a knock on, and when Eels prop Kurt De Luis hit a ball close to the line he crashed over under the posts to put the Eels just 14-10 down.
The Doolan conversion brought the scores to 14-12, with the Blue and Gold heading back to the sheds trailing by just 2 points.
The Blue and Gold again started strongly after the break, with Denzal Tonise burrowing over the line in the 52nd minute to edge the Eels in front, and Doolan adding another 2 points with the boot.
Wests Tigers winger Obed Kharwin levelled the score with his second four-pointer of the afternoon with 10 minutes left to play, setting up a thrilling finish between the two young sides.
With 6 minutes on the clock, Blue and Gold halfback Troy Dargan slotted a field goal to edge the home side 19-18 up.
With 3 minutes to play, the Wests Tigers burrowed towards the tryline, but the Eels defensive line shut them out and forced a handling error.
And with just 2 minutes on the clock, pushing against a Wests Tigers scrum feed, the Blue and Gold regained the ball, sending hooker Denzal Tonise sprinting more than 50m downfield only to be pulled down just short of the tryline. From just outside the line, the Eels attack shifted the ball left, through the hands and onto winger Jermaine Mati-Leifi to step inside and score.
Doolan converted Mati-Leifi’s four-pointer after the full-time siren for a 25-18 win, leapfrogging the Wests Tigers to move into fifth spot on the Holden Cup ladder.
Dyldam Parramatta Eels - 25 (Doolan, De Luis, Tonise, Mati-Leifi. Doolan: 4/4. Field goals - Dargan: 1/1)
Wests Tigers - 18 (Roberts, Tali, Karwhin 2. Mapesone: 1/4)