The Parramatta Eels have ground their way to a tough 32-24 victory against the New Zealand Warriors in their Round 13 NRL Telstra Premiership match at ANZ Stadium.
The Eels came into the clash missing co-captain Tim Mannah and bench forward Siosaia Vave who were both ruled out in the week due to injury. Parramatta’s were left to finish the match with a one-man bench after three players went down injured throughout the match.
Parramatta started the match on the front foot when they were moved into good field position in the 3rd minute courtesy of a high tackle by Warriors backrower Simon Mannering.
In the 4th minute the Eels cashed in on their field position with Kirisome Auva’a scoring in the right corner. Nathan Brown took the ball at first receiver 20 metres from the Warriors line, and found a hard-running Tepai Moeroa with a beautiful cut-out pass who managed to basketball a pass over the top of the cover defence to find the Blue and Gold centre.
Clint Gutherson’s sideline conversion gave Parramatta an early 6-0 lead.
The Eels were then without hooker Kaysa Pritchard in the eighth minute who was taken off due to a concussion and replaced by utility Will Smith.
Just two minutes later though Parramatta crossed in the right corner through Josh Hoffman.
The Blue and Golds began playing Harlem Globetrotter-type football with Clint Gutherson slicing through on the left edge. The five-eighth was reeled in by the cover defence but on the following play the Eels went to their right through Mitchell Moses who hit Bevan French, the fullback used his speed to hold up the defence before finding Josh Hoffman who stepped off his right foot and barged over in the corner.
Gutherson again converted from the right touchline and the Eels led 12-0 inside 10 minutes.
The Warriors got back into the game in the 19th minute when Kieran Foran put Simon Mannering through a big hole in the Eels defence close to the line. Shaun Johnson added the extras and the Eels led 12-6.
New Zealand drew level in the 26th minute with Ken Maumalo scoring in the left corner after quick hands from the Warriors caught the Eels defence short. Johnson’s sideline conversion saw the score at 12-all.
With 10 minutes to go in the first half Josh Hoffman went down with a leg injury, requiring a running repair job from the trainer but had to leave the field a couple of minutes later.
Hoffman’s injury saw a reshuffle in the backline with Auva’a moving to the wing and Manu Ma’u shifted to right centre.
Semi Radradra then breathed life back into the Eels, racing 70 metres to score under the black dot in the 33rd minute.
The Warriors shifted the ball to their right edge but spilled it, allowing an alert David Gower to pounce on the mistake and find a flying Semi-trailer who outpaced the cover defence.
Clint Gutherson converted from in front and the Eels were out to an 18-12 lead.
The Warriors began fighting their way back into the match and set up camp for the final few minutes of the half on the Eels’ line. Desperate defence from the Blue and Golds held out the New Zealanders with Parramatta going into half time with an 18-12 lead.
Just after the half time break and the Eels had early field position after Shaun Johnson put his first kick of the half out on the full but an errant offload from Beau Scott let the Warriors off the hook.
Parramatta began to win the battle in the middle, winning multiple penalties due to the Warriors’ ill-discipline.
In the 50th minute the Eels moved to a 20-12 lead after Shaun Johnson was penalised for being offside and Gutherson slotted the penalty goal.
Parramatta’s lead increased with Tepai Moeroa crashing over in the left corner in the 56th minute. The Eels went to Nathan Brown at first receiver who hit the defensive line and offloaded to Beau Scott, the captain then popped a ball to Moeroa who was too strong to stop close to the line.
Gutherson nailed the conversion from out wide and the Eels were out to a 26-12 lead.
The Eels bench was down to just one with 20 minutes to go after David Gower’s hand was injured and he was unable to return.
The Warriors though wouldn’t go away and with 16 minutes left Ryan Hoffman crashed over after they used a second-man play to isolate Mitchell Moses. Shaun Johnson’s conversion saw the score at 26-18.
With nine minutes to go the Warriors were back within two points after Tuivasa-Sheck stepped through the heavily fatigued Parramatta defence. Shaun Johnson made no mistake from in front and the score was 26-24 to the Eels.
Clint Gutherson though sealed the match in the final minute for the Eels when he darted from dummy-half and fought his way over to score to the right of the uprights. He converted his own try and the Eels won a tough contest 32-24.
Parramatta Eels 32 (Tries: Auva’a, Hoffman, Radradra, Moeroa, Gutherson. Goals: Gutherson 6/6)
New Zealand Warriors 24 (Tries: Mannering, Maumalo, Hoffman, Tuivasa-Sheck. Goals: Johnson 4/4)