The Parramatta Eels have come from behind to win 26-22 in their Round 7 clash with the Wests Tigers in the NRL Telstra Premiership.
The Eels welcomed many of their hall of fame stars before kick-off to celebrate the club’s 70th anniversary and it seemed some of the magic from the legends rubbed off on their modern day counterparts.
Parramatta got the match off to a bright start in the 2nd minute with Michael Jennings looming up in support of a rampaging Semi Radradra to cross on the left edge. Clint Gutherson’s conversion gave the Eels a 6-0 lead.
The match got into an arm wrestle with both teams unable to find the mark with their passes. The Tigers thought they had crossed in the 12th minute when Kevin Naiqama slid over in the corner, only for it to be called back due to a forward pass.
The Tigers were in for real though three minutes later with Mitchell Moses hitting a hole on the right edge off a James Tedesco pass. Moses converted his own try and brought the match level at 6-6.
The Blue and Golds fought hard and thought they had kicked ahead in the 19th minute only for Kirisome Auva’a’s final pass to Josh Hoffman to be called forward.
Parramatta were then trapped on their own line as the Tigers began to ratchet up the pressure. The Blue and Gold wall stood firm and forced a mistake allowing the Eels to work the ball off their own line.
Suaia Matagi continued his strong start to the match when he steamed onto a short ball from Nathan Brown and sent defenders scattering.
The Eels built pressure off the back of Matagi’s run and cashed in with 17 minutes remaining in the half. Corey Norman received the ball from dummy half, 20 metres from the Tigers line and drifted right. He found halves partner Brad Takairangi who found Gutherson looming up in support. Gutherson positioned Kirisome Auva’a perfectly who muscled his way over in the right corner.
Gutherson was unable to convert and the Eels lead 10-6.
In the 28th minute the Tigers hit back through a hard running Sauaso Sue who proved hard to stop close to the line. Moses added the extras and the Tigers went ahead 12-10.
Almost 10 minutes later and after sustained pressure the Tigers crossed for their third of the afternoon. Mitchell Moses produced a deftly weighted kick only 10 metres from the Eels line that plugged in the in goal and allowed Kevin Naiqama to plant the ball down despite the attention of Gutherson and Hoffman.
Moses’ missed conversion saw the Tigers head to the sheds leading 16-10.
Parramatta started the second half well, trucking the ball up the middle and putting themselves in good field position but were unable to cash in.
The Tigers were able to take advantage of a Manu Ma’u forward pass 20 metres from his own line with Matt McIlwrick diving over from dummy half in the 52nd minute. Moses’ conversion was successful and the Tigers jumped to a 22-10 lead.
After consecutive sets on their own line the Eels hit back in the 60th minute.
Strong runs from Semi Radradra and Clint Gutherson brought the Eels to halfway. The Blue and Golds went to their left with Corey Norman hitting Michael Jennings. The speedy centre then drifted in field, beating multiple defenders before finding Brad Takairangi. The five-eighth sliced the Tigers open with a right foot step, before grubbering for a flying Kirisome Auva’a.
Gutherson’s missed conversion saw the Eels trail 22-14 with 20 minutes to go.
Parramatta then roared back into the contest in the 64th minute with a try to Josh Hoffman. Pritchard found Takairangi from dummy half who passed it on to Norman. A full-pace Auva’a burst onto a flat ball from Norman and he found Hoffman who crossed in the right corner untouched.
Gutherson landed the kick from the sideline and brought the Eels back to within two points.
The Blue and Golds then took the lead in the 70th minute after a breathless passage of play.
The Tigers went to their right edge and spilled the ball. Jennings scooped the ball up and set sail for the try line. David Nofoaluma was able to reel in the speedster but the Eels were on the front foot.
Nathan Brown drifted to the left 15 metres from the Tigers line and found Gutherson who managed to pop a pass to Manu Ma’u. The blockbusting back-rower was able to find Semi Radradra who went over without a hand being laid on him.
Gutherson added the extras and the Eels pulled ahead 26-22.
Despite a mountain of pressure from the Tigers inside the final 10 minutes the Blue and Gold wall stood firm; Parramatta claiming the Easter Monday clash 26-22 over the Wests Tigers.
Parramatta Eels 26 (Try scorers: Michael Jennings, Kirisome Auva’a 2, Josh Hoffman, Semi Radradra. Goals: Clint Gutherson 3/5)
Wests Tigers 22 (Sauaso Sue, Mitchell Moses, Kevin Naiqama, Matt McIlwrick Goals: Mitchell Moses 3/4)