MATCH HIGHLIGHTS | Eels v Dragons, Round 2
The Parramatta Eels have put the St. George Illawarra Dragons to the sword at WIN Stadium, coming away with a 34-16 victory in Round Two as winger Semi Radradra stars with four in front of 16,023 fans.
The Eels started the game in electrifying fashion with a try to five-eighth Clinton Gutherson in the opening 38 seconds.
Dragons forward Russell Packer fumbled the ball on the opening hit up of the game, giving possession to the Eels and prime attacking opportunity.
The Eels made them pay when Gutherson floated across field, found a space in the defensive line and straightened to cross over out wide, giving the Eels a 4-0 lead in the opening minute of play.
The next 15 minutes of plenty of back and forth action. The Dragons bombed to the corners but Josh Hoffman and Bevan French were there on repeat occasions to diffuse the situation.
But as the Eels made their way down field, the ball shifted through the hands down the left edge, and Michael Jennings put winger Semi Radradra over in the corner for the Eels’ second try of the game.
The Eels left edge continued to threaten, and it wasn’t before long that halfback Corey Norman had the Eels on the attack again. Norman sliced through the defence and looked to offload to support before being pulled down by fullback Josh Dugan.
As the Eels spread the ball left, an incredible one-handed flick pass between the legs of Jennings found Radradra, and the winger dove over in the corner to score his second of the afternoon.
The Eels forced an error from fullback Josh Dugan as he looked to get the ball back in the field of play, and they made the Dragons pay off the back of their solid defence.
Corey Norman grubbed through the line and centre Brad Takairangi won the footrace to the bouncing ball to plant it for a four pointer.
The Eels looked to go over again just before half time, when a silky offload looked to put Jennings into space, but the centre was unable to hold onto the pass and the try went begging.
The Dragons made the Eels pay, when captain and half Gareth Widdop ran onto a Leeson Ah Mau offload, and he sliced through the line, stepped Bevan French at fullback to score under the posts.
The Eels entered the half-time sheds with an 18-6 lead.
It didn’t take long for the Eels to open up their scoring in the second half. The Eels made their way down field, and Clinton Gutherson earnt a repeat set with a well weighted grubber into the in goal.
Shortly after, as the ball spread left, fullback Bevan French had the Dragons clutching at straws. The speedster stepped, swerved and danced his way to the line, brushing past two defenders to cross for a converted try and put the Eels up 24-10.
But the Dragons were not out of the fight. They struck back quickly down the left edge, when centre Tim Lafai flicked a ball out to Jason Nightingale. The experienced centre stepped back on the inside and offloaded to fullback Josh Dugan in support, who stepped and sprinted his way to the corner to score.
The Eels however made their way down field and camped on the Dragons try line. Back to back penalties had the home side’s defence under plenty of pressure, and it cracked in the 59thminute when Norman threw a cut out ball to Radradra to cross over for his third of the night.
Kaysa Pritchard looked to cross for his own four pointer in the 68th minute of the clash, but a knock on was ruled as the hooker attempted to plant the ball under heavy defence.
The Dragons made it a 12 point turn around as they made their way down field, and crossed through prop Paul Vaughan, who strolled under the posts untouched for a converted try.
However the Eels had the final say, and put their stamp on the game, when Eels winger Radradra crossed for his fourth try of the evening in the 75th minute.
The ball shifted to the right, and French threw a deft pass back on the inside to find Radradra in support who crossed over out wide, securing a convincing 34-16 victory over the Dragons in Wollongong.
Parramatta Eels 34 (Tries: Semi Radradra (4), Clint Gutherson, Brad Takairangi, Bevan French; Goals Clinton Gutherson 2/5)
St. George Illawarra Dragons 16 (Tries: Gareth Widdop, Josh Dugan, Paul Vaughan; Goals: Gareth Widdop 2/3)