The Parramatta Eels NYC have defeated the South Sydney Rabbitohs NYC 40-26 in their round 26 clash at ANZ Stadium.
A spirited second half, that saw the Eels score 30 points to 6, secured the Blue and Gold a top four spot as they prepare for their finals match next week.
The Eels had their first opportunity to post points on the board, when a penalty in the third minute of the clash gifted them strong field position down the Rabbitohs end.
But a misdirected pass saw the ball go to ground as Rabbitohs winger Nic Mougios scooped up the loose ball and streak 80 metres down field. A shift through the hands ended up with winger Malachi Morgan crossing out wide for a converted try and an early 0-6 lead.
The Rabbitohs were over again in the 16th minute of play, when they opted for a short side play close to the line. Charging back towards the ruck, forward Henry-Siriah Fuimaono crashed over close to the line to extend their lead.
Hawkins knocked over a penalty goal in the 26th minute from 30 metres out to give the Rabbitohs a 14-0 lead.
Parramatta were back in the match in the 29th minute when Greg Leleisiuao’s barnstorming return from a goal line drop-out put the Eels in attacking territory and quick hands from the Blue and Gold saw Noel Aukafolau cross in the left corner.
Dylan brown was unable to convert with the Eels trailing 14-4.
Ray Stone crossed for Parramatta’s second off the following set when Reed Mahoney sliced through the middle of the Souths defence and the back-rower supported the diminutive rake to slide over next to the uprights. Brown’s conversion saw the score at 14-10.
The Rabbitohs though hit back just two minutes from half-time when a hard-running Kalani Ili couldn’t be stopped close to the line.
Dean Hawkins’ conversion sent the sides to the sheds with Souths holding a 20-10 lead.
Three minutes into the second half and Ray Stone had his second of the night, diving over from dummy-half on the left-hand side of the field, 10 metres in from touch. Brown converted and the Eels trailed 20-16.
Noel Aukafolau grabbed his second try of the night when the Eels went through the hands and the big centre was simply too strong close to the line. Brown landed the sideline conversion and the Eels now led 22-20 after 54 minutes.
The Eels were on the attack five minutes later and on the last Troy Dargan took in the line with a right foot step before popping an offload to Reed Mahoney who dived over. Brown’s conversion gave the Eels a 28-20 lead with 20 minutes remaining.
The Rabbitohs struck back in the 65th minute through Milachi Morgan who collected a cross field kick and crossed on the right edge for his second. Hawkins converted and the Eels held a narrow 28-26 lead.
Parramatta jumped back out to an eight-point lead with Ray Stone crossing for his hat-trick and Dylan Brown adding the extras.
Ray Stone was over for his fourth try of the night in the 74th minute. Brown converted from near the left sideline and the Eels jumped out to a 40-26 lead.
Parramatta Eels 40 (Tries: Noel Aukafolau 2, Ray Stone 4, Reed Mahoney. Goals: Dylan Brown 6/7)
South Sydney Rabbitohs 26 (Tries: Malachi Morgan 2; Henry-Siriah Fuimaono, Kalani Ili; Goals: Dean Hawkins 5/5)