The Parramatta Eels have won the Battle of the West over the Penrith Panthers in their NRL Telstra Premiership Round 8 clash.
The Eels started the match on the front-foot after the Panthers made a mistake in the first minute, allowing the kick-off to bounce dead and gifting the Blue and Gold a goal line drop-out.
Parramatta hammered away at the Penrith line until, in the 4th minute, Brad Takairangi poked a kick into the in-goal with Penrith’s Bryce Cartwright failing to ground the kick in-goal and Corey Norman pouncing on the loose ball. Clint Gutherson converted from the right of the posts and gave the Blue and Gold a 6-0 lead.
The Eels then piled on more pressure when the Panthers spilled the ball 40 metres from their own line. With 14 minutes gone Penrith gave away a penalty 20 metres out and right in-front to allow Gutherson to add an extra two points.
The Blue and Golds thought they were in again after 25 minutes through Michael Jennings only for it to be called back due to a suspected knock-on by Gutherson.
After a period of back and forth between the two sides the Eels scored their second with two minutes remaining in the first half.
Siosaia Vave took the ball at first receiver before finding Corey Norman who perfectly weighted a cross field kick for a flying Semi Radradra to score in the left corner. Gutherson dragged the shot at goal wide.
The Eels finished the first half with a 12-0 lead.
Just three minutes into the second half and Parramatta extended their lead through Norman’s second try of the afternoon.
Pritchard scooted from dummy half on the last tackle and offloaded to a flying Gutherson who kicked towards the right corner which saw Norman pick the ball up and score out wide. Gutherson stepped up and landed the conversion from the sideline to give push the Eels out to 18-0.
Penrith crossed for their first of the afternoon through Peta Hiku in the 55th minute, managing to plant the ball down in the left corner despite the attentions of both Gutherson and Josh Hoffman. Matt Moylan landed the conversion from the sideline and the Eels lead was cut to 12 points.
The match then went end-to-end with Corey Norman slicing through from deep inside his own half only for his pass back one the inside to be scooped up by the Panthers and then Waqa Blake returned serve. Penrith were unable to cash in on their field position – Cartwright spilling the ball while trying to force an offload.
With 10 minutes to go Norman grubbered the ball into touch 10 metres from the Penrith line. Centre Kirisome Auva’a then earnt the Eels the ball back with a bone rattling hit on his opposite number two tackles later.
The Blue and Golds were unable to capitalise on strong field position and soon their backs were to the wall with the Panthers hammering their goal line.
After repeated sets in attack Penrith cracked the Blue and Gold wall after a floated pass was touched by Hoffman, regathered by Moylan and spread to the right edge with Corey Harawira-Naera scoring in the 78th minute. Moylan’s conversion cut the Parramatta lead to 18-12.
Parramatta hung tough in the final minutes to grind out an 18-12 win in the Battle of the West.
The win though wasn’t without concern after five-eighth Brad Takairangi left the field due to a knee injury during the match.
Parramatta Eels 18 (Tries: Norman 2, Radradra. Goals: Gutherson 3/4)
Penrith Panthers 12 (Tries: Hiku, Harawira-Naera. Goals: Moylan 2/2)