The Parramatta Eels Jersey Flegg side have gone down in a high scoring affair, 38-24, to the top of the table Newcastle Knights at Cessnock Sports Ground on Saturday 28 July in Round 20 of the Jersey Flegg competition.
Looking to rebound from a defeat to the Cronulla Sharks last week, the young Eels outfit found themselves on the front foot and on the scoreboard early when bulldozing forward Stefano Utoikamanu crashed over close to the line, after a cut out ball from hooker Ayden Carling sent the prop over the line in just the third minute of the clash.
The lead was short lived with the Knights striking back with tries in the 11th minute through a simple show and go from halfback Hayden Loughrey before a lucky rebound eventually fell into the hands of Tevita Alifa to cross in the 25th minute.
Close to the line, five-eighth Nash Birch found second rower Kurtis Dark in support, diving over to extent the Knights lead to 14-6 after 25 minutes.
Nick Okladnikov had been named to play in the centres earlier in the week but he moved to the back row with William Kei named in the centres in a late positional change. The move paid dividends for the back rower with Okladnikov crossing in the 30th minute of play, running a straight line off the shoulder of fullback John Fonua.
Tries on either stroke of half time through the home side’s left edge extended the lead to 26-12, seeing the young Blue & Gold desperate to score next to keep themselves in the contest.
A cut out ball from Fonua found William Kei crossing over in the 47th minute of play before the fullback involved himself again, chiming into the Eels back line to produce a quick tap on to winger Tyler Tuigamala to cross over out wide.
The brave Eels had fought their way back into the contest to come within just two points of the competition leaders.
However crucial errors crept into the Blue & Gold game, and the Knights made the Eels pay for their mistakes. Knights fullback Tex Hoy looming in support through the middle of the ruck to cross for a long range try in the 59th minute before another long range effort by Birch found Pheonix Crossland in support to cross in the 63rd minute.
With chances going begging, and further Eels errors, the Knights held on for a seven try to four victory over the young Blue & Gold.
The Eels will face the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium in Round 21 on Saturday 4 August at Allianz Stadium.
Parramatta Eels Jersey Flegg 24 (Tries: Stefano Utoikamanu, Nick Okladnikov, William Kei, Tyler Tuigamala; Goals: Todd Sapienza 4/5)
Newcastle Knights 38 (Tries: Hayden Loughrey, Tevita Alifa, LKurtis Dark, Beau Fermor, Justin Worley, Tex Hoy, Pheonix Crossland; Goals: Kurtis Dark 5/7)