Eels NYC steal one-point thriller at ANZ Stadium
The Parramatta Eels NYC have stolen the match in the final two minutes against the Canberra Raiders NYC, winning their round 11 clash 23-22 at ANZ Stadium.
The Raiders got off to a bright start with Jack Murchie crossing on the right edge after he was the first to a Logan Spaander grubber. Andre Niko converted and the Raiders led 6-0 inside the first five minutes.
The Blue and Golds struck back not long after with John Fonua the beneficiary of quick hands from the Eels halves in Troy Dargan and Dean Matterson. Dargan’s missed conversion saw the Raiders lead 6-4 after 13 minutes.
Three minutes later and Canberra crossed again, this time Komiti Tuilagi rose above the pack to bat the cross-field bomb to teammate Sebastian Kris who scored in the left corner.
With 22 minutes gone the Raiders were in again, this time Logan Spaander was the beneficiary of a grubber from halves partner Jayden Carroll. Niko converted from in-front and the Raiders were up 16-4.
The Eels crossed for their second try after Dargan went to his left and found John Fonua who popped the ball back on the inside to a hard-running Dane Aukafolau who was too hard to stop close to the line. Dargan’s attempted conversion from the left sideline was unsuccessful and the scored stood at 16-8 after 27 minutes.
Both sides then went blow-for-blow for the rest of the half with neither being able to breach the other’s defence, giving the Raiders a 16-8 lead at half-time.
The Eels were the first to cross in the second half through Greg Leleisiuao. The Blue and Golds went to their right edge through Reed Mahoney who spun the ball wide and Tuimavave Afualo was able to take advantage of the two-on-one to send Leleisiuao over. Dargan’s attempt was unsuccessful from the touchline and the Raiders led 16-12.
The Raiders pushed their lead back out to 10 points in the 55th minute with fullback Harry Van Dartel sliding over under the posts and Niko converting from in front.
Parramatta though were not going to roll over with Sean Keppie barging his way over from close range. Fonua stepped up to add the extra points and the Eels trailed 22-18 with 20 minutes to go.
The Eels were given a further boost when Raiders back-rower Jack Murchie was sent to the sin-bin in the 62nd minute for a professional foul.
In the 69th minute the Blue and Golds cashed in on their numerical advantage with John Fonua crossing in the left corner. Dargan was unable to convert from the sideline and the Eels had drawn level at 22-all.
With only two minutes left the Eels went ahead for the first time in the match through the boot of Troy Dargan; the diminutive halfback nailing a low field goal from 25 metres out and five metres to the left of the uprights.
The Blue and Golds then hung on in a tense final minute to triumph 23-22.
Parramatta Eels 23 (Tries: Fonua 2, Aukafolau, Leleisiuao, Keppie. Goals: Dargan 0/4, Fonua 1/1. Field Goal: Dargan 1/1)
Canberra Raiders 22 (Tries: Murchie, Kris, Spaander, Van Dartel. Goals: Niko 3/4.)