The Parramatta Eels have ran out convincing 34-16 winners against the St George Illawarra Dragons in their Jersey Flegg clash at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
The Eels started strongly when hooker Vea Tapaatoutai darted from dummy-half and scored in the ninth minute. Five-eighth Todd Sapienza added the extras and Parramatta led 6-0.
Parramatta continued their dominance when they went to their right-hand side in the 15th minute with fullback John-Paul Nohra crossing out-wide.
Sapienza couldn’t convert from near the touchline and the score stood at 10-0.
With 20 minutes gone and the Dragons pressuring the Blue and Gold line, prop forward Thomas Angel looked to have crashed over, only to spill the ball at the last moment and hand the Eels a reprieve.
Parramatta were in for their third when Nicholas Okladnikov sliced through on the left edge and crossed next to the uprights. Sapienza converted from almost in front and they held a 16-0 lead after 22 minutes.
Todd Sapienza got in on the action in the 25th minute when he accelerated through the Dragons right-side defence. The five-eighth converted his own try and the Eels led 22-0.
In the final minute of the half, Dragons utility Dylan Morris nabbed a bomb close to the Eels line and crossed to the right of the uprights.
Jayden Morgan converted and the sides went into half-time with the Eels leading 22-6.
The Eels returned the game to usual programming with centre Tuimavave Afualo scoring down Parramatta’s right side in the set following the second half kick-off.
Sapienza converted from the touchline and the Blue and Gold had a 28-6 lead after 38 minutes.
In the 55th minute Morris sliced through the Eels line and raced 80 metres to score next to the left touchline.
Morgan was unable to convert from out-wide and the Eels led 28-10.
Morris made it a hattrick in the 64th minute with five-eighth Tyran Wishart converting from in-front to make the score 28-16.
The Eels though killed off any further sniff of a comeback when prop Steve Dresler barged his way over from close range.
Sapienza converted from in-front and the Eels were out to a 34-16 lead with two minutes remaining.
Despite a late flurry from the Dragons, they couldn’t breach the Blue and Gold line again with the Eels running out 34-16 winners.
Parramatta Eels 34 (Tries: Tapaatoutai, Nohra, Okladnikov, Sapienza, Afualo, Dresler. Goals: Sapienza 5/6)
St George Illawarra Dragons 16 (Tries: Morris 3. Goals: Morgan 1/2, Wishart 1/1)