The Dyldam Parramatta Eels have fallen to a second half comeback from the in-form Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium this afternoon, unable to stop a left edge assault, going down 28-18 in their Round 24 NRL Telstra Premiership clash.
The Blue and Gold were faced with a handful of late changes in the clash, with forwards Beau Scott and Tepai Moeroa ruled out late, seeing Vai Toutai and Rory O’Brien called into the side, but the disruptions to the side didn’t effect the Eels in the early stages of the clash.
The Blue and Gold came out of the blocks firing and opened the scoring through centre Michael Jennings, who pounced on a bouncing Jeff Robson grubber in the fifth minute of play, as the Eels took an early 6-0 lead.
The Eels struck again shortly, once again down the left edge, with Jeff Robson starring in the lead up. The halfback had the defence guessing and his cut out ball to Jennings saw the centre step inside his defender, before offloading to the returning Semi Radradra to score out wide and put the Eels ahead by 10 after 13 minutes.
The Raiders began to find their rhythm, making their way down field and had looked to open their scoring for the afternoon through winger Brenko Lee. The left winger was on the end of a backline shift, but fullback Bevan French saved the day and denied the try as he came flying across in defence to take the winger in to touch as he planted the ball.
A 12 point turn around as the Eels then worked the ball down field and finished off their set with another four pointer after some soft hands from Manu Ma’u and Robson put Radradra away down the sideline. The winger drew the fullback and offloaded to a looming French in support to cross for the Eels third try of the afternoon.
The Raiders crossed for their first try of the afternoon, through winger Lee, in a near identical lead up to their previously disallowed try.
The Raiders were in prime attacking position in the final 10 minutes of the first half but the Eels withstood the pressure, holding off wave after wave and five repeat sets to repel the Green Machine attack.
A penalty in the 38th minute saw Gordon add two points to the total, taking the Blue and Gold into the half time sheds with a 18-4 lead.
The time in the sheds saw a complete reversal of momentum. The Eels were unable to cross the line after being provided a good attacking opportunity early in the half and the home side made the most of their field position, crossing for a Jarrod Croker try.
The following set saw a freak ricochet off Edwards from the kick, which popped into the hands of Papalii who summed up the 4 on 2 overlap to put Lee over for his second and the Raiders claw back the score to just four points.
The Raiders left edge continued to cause headaches, and Captain Croker put over his outside winger Lee, with a flick pass in the 59th minute for his third of the afternoon and leveled the scores, 18-18.
Lee was in the thick of the action again, crossing for his fourth of the afternoon to put the home side in front, and with the momentum in their favour, they extended their lead with a try to Sia Soliola in the 70th minute, their fifth of the second half.
The Eels threw everything they had at the Raiders defence in the final 10 minutes, but the home side held strong, coming away with a 28-18 victory.
Parramatta Eels 18 (Tries: Michael Jennings, Semi Radradra, Bevan French; Goals: Michael Gordon 2/3; Penalty Goal: 1/1)
Canberra Raiders 28 (Tries: Brenko Lee (4), Jarrod Croker, Sia Soliola; Goals: Jarrod Croker 2/6)