The Parramatta Eels have gone down 32-30 to a fast-finishing St George-Illawarra Dragons NYC side in their round 15 clash at ANZ Stadium.
St George struck in the first minute when Trent Peoples sliced through on halfway and Jason Gillard loomed up in support to score under the posts. Jackson Willis converted from in-front and the Dragons led 6-0.
The Eels responded five minutes later through prop Frank Salu who was too strong close to the line. Halfback Joseph Taipari’s conversion brought the score back to 6-6.
Haze Dunster then put the Eels ahead when he chased through a Taipari kick and Dragons fullback Steven Marsters was unable to clean up the ball, allowing Dunster to score 10 metres in from the right touch line. Taipari landed the conversion and the Eels led 12-6 after 17 minutes.
Parramatta were in again in the 25th minute with Reed Mahoney diving over from dummy-half. Taipari converted and Parramatta’s lead went to 18-6.
Dean Matterson was the next to score for the Eels after Salesi Faingaa sliced through on the Eels’ right edge and found the five-eighth looming support on his inside. The Eels halfback made no mistake from in front and they led 24-6 with 12 minutes left in the first half.
The Eels were in again with only eight minutes to go, this time some hot potato in mid-field saw Anthony Layoun poke his head through and flick pass to Denzal Tonise who found Salesi Faingaa with the back-rower finding Emosi Alamoti in support and scoring out wide. Taipari converted from near the right touch line and the score stood at 30-6.
The Dragons responded in the shadows of half-time with Jason Gillard grabbing his second try of the afternoon down the right edge. Willis’ sideline conversion sent the teams to the sheds with the Eels leading 30-12.
St George were the first to cross in the second half with Dylan Morris stealing the ball from Greg Leleisiuao and racing 55 metres to score in the right corner. Willis converted from out wide and Eels led 30-18 after 49 minutes.
Dylan Morris was in for his second five minutes later, collecting a Jackson Ford pass to dive over in the corner. Willis was unable to convert from the sideline and the Eels led 30-22.
Both sides then went end-to-end but neither was able to cash in on any field position they established.
With 12 minutes to go Reed Mahoney kicked a 40/20 out of dummy-half to put the Eels into strong field position but they were unable to crack the Dragons’ line.
St George then made it a four-point game with Stuart Mason crashing over. Willis failed to convert and the Eels were up 30-26 with eight minutes to go.
The Dragons hit the lead with three minutes remaining when Dean Francis crossed in the left corner. Willis converted to hand the Dragons a 32-30 lead.
The Eels spread the ball to their left edge with one minute remaining but were unable to breach the St George line. Parramatta falling 32-30 in an entertaining clash.
Parramatta Eels 30 (Tries: Salu, Dunster, Mahoney, Matterson, Alamoti. Goals: Taipari 5/5)
St George-Illawarra Dragons 32 (Tries: Gillard 2, Morris 2, Mason, Francis. Goals: Willis 4/6)