The Parramatta Eels have fallen one game short of the 2017 Downer NRL Auckland Nines grand final, suffering a 13-0 defeat to the Penrith Panthers at Eden Park this afternoon (Sunday 5 February).
A real typical style of football to start this Battle of the West, with both sides deciding to kick long and kick often, opting to play down the other end of the field.
The Panthers looked to score first when Isaah Yeo bust through the line, but some desperate defence from Bevan French saw the winger pull down the forward metres from the line.
The Eels continued to scramble on their defensive line and repel the Panthers, but in their next attacking set, Panthers Waqa Blake bust through the middle before streaking 50m to score an uncoverted try.
The Eels had opportunities to strike back before half time, but the Panthers managed to stop French close to the line, and diffuse a cross-field kick on the final play of the half, as the Eels headed into the half time break trailing by 4-0.
The Panthers controlled the field position in the second half, opting to kick long early and often.
They continued to pin the Eels in their own half and it eventually paid dividends when a long kick from inside their own half saw winger Malakai Watene-Zelezniak win footrace and score the team’s second of the match.
The Panthers went over again in the final few minutes of the match, Blake stepping his way through the line to cross for a bonus-zone try.
With just minutes remaining, the Eels threw everything they had in attack at the Panthers, but it wasn’t enough falling 13-0, ending their 2017 Downer NRL Auckland Nines campaign.