MATCH HIGHLIGHTS | Eels NYC v Penrith Panthers, Preliminary Final
The Parramatta Eels NYC side have progressed through to their maiden Grand Final after a clinical 28-6 victory over the Penrith Panthers at Allianz Stadium in the preliminary final. Check out all the highlights from the clash.
Eels forward Ray Stone looked to have opened the scoring in the fourth minute of the clash, but as he outstretched his arm to plant the ball over the line, the referee ruled on a double movement and the try went begging.
However in the ensuing set, after a break down field by winger John Fonua following a kick return, the ball spread through the hands of the Eels backline before fullback Anthony Layoun chimed in to cross over out wide.
The Eels taking a 6-0 lead after seven minutes.
The Panthers struck back in the 17th minute of the clash, when they made their way down into the Blue & Gold red zone. Close to the line, hooker Wayde Egan barged his way over from dummy-half to crash over to the left of the posts for a converted try.
However the NYC struck back quickly, with a superb, skilful pass back on the inside from forward Salesi Faingaa to put winger Greg Leleisuao bursting through the line. The winger showed a clean pair of heels to run 35m untouched to score in the corner and put the Eels back in front by four.
The Eels looked to have extended their lead even further just before half time when half Dylan Brown dummied and sliced his way over to score, but an obstruction ruling denied the halfback a four pointer.
The Eels had one final shot at the Panthers as the halftime siren rang after a penalty saw the Blue & Gold gifted possession 20m out from the try line. Winger Leleisiuao charged towards the corner looking for his second, but was bundled into touch by some desperate Panthers cover defence.
The Eels heading to the sheds with a 10-6 lead after the opening 40 minutes.
The Eels came out of the blocks firing, and crossed out wide through winger Leleisiuao in the 44th minute, but the final pass from Dean Matterson was ruled forward.
However the Eels maintained the pressure down the Panthers end, forced a drop out before converting the possession into points.
As the Eels worked their way inside the Panthers 20m, the ball spread quickly through the hands of Matterson, Brown, Layoun to found Fonua who dove over in the corner for a converted try.
The Blue & Gold were over again in the 58th minute after some great work by utility Reed Mahoney. The livewire, who was proving a handful in the ruck, showed his skill with the boot, kicking a 40/20 to put the Eels into a great attacking position.
Co-captain Denzal Tonise made the most of the opportunity, showing some pure strength and determination to carry three defenders crash over under the posts.
The Eels went over again in the 64th minute, when left centre Noel Aukafolau poked his head through the line, offloaded the ball under heavy defence, before Brown batted the ball on to Layoun who dove over for his second of the evening.
The final 15 minutes of play, despite the enterprising attack, only saw two more points added to the score board, when half Dylan Brown kicked a penalty goal from 25m out with 1:30 remaining on the clock.
The Eels NYC securing a 28-6 victory over the Penrith Panthers, securing their spot in the Holden Cup Grand Final against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.
Parramatta Eels 28 (Tries: Anthony Layoun (2), Greg Leleisiuao, John Fonua, Denzal Tonise; Goals: Dylan Brown 4/6)
Penrith Panthers 6 (Tries: Wayde Egan; Goals: Dean Blore 1/1)