The honours were shared in Round 4 action at Cabramatta on Saturday when three grades of Parramatta Eels took on the Illawarra Steelers.
The Harold Matts team started on fire, jumping out to a 12-point lead following tries to five-eighth Terrence Lafai and winger Cooper Sinclair. The tall Sinclair brought the crowd to its feet in his 90-metre charge to the line off an intercept.
Illawarra wouldn’t lie down, and despite the physicality of the Eels defence, levelled the scores with converted tries either side of half time.
An unconverted try to fullback Patrick Spence edged Parra out to a four point lead, before Myles Martin crossed off a crash play next to the posts with just four minutes remaining.
Parra Eels Juniors Round 4 Best Moments
Martin then put an exclamation point on his performance by backing up a long break by centre Charlie Guymer from the kick off in what might be a contender for the try of the year. It was definitely a spectacular way to end the match.
Both teams treated fans to a high quality contest during the first half of the Tarsha Gale Cup.
An early try to the Steelers was soon countered by tries to Eels props Ruby-Jean Kennard and Losalio Sita Payne. Parra’s second phase play was providing good field position and challenging the Steelers defence.
However, the Steelers are highly rated for a reason and a couple of tries late in the half saw them take a four-point lead into the break.
The second half would belong to Illawarra with the Eels unable to find the energy, rhythm or completions of the first thirty minutes.
Tries to the Steelers came in quick succession as they racked up 26 unanswered points in an impressive display.
Parramatta can take some positives from their first-half form but will need to guard against concentration lapses in their next match.
In what was almost a repeat of their round one loss to Manly, critical errors were a factor in the Eels SG Ball draw with Illawarra.
Disciplined and composed footy produced three first-half tries for Parra, two to lock Peter Taateo and one to five-eighth Josh Chappell. Dummy half Vlado Jankovic was at his creative best and the forwards were winning the middle.
A sole try to the Steelers after the Eels kicked out on the full was the only interruption to the Eels domination, with the home team taking an 18 to 6 lead into half time.
Illawarra’s second phase play and Parra’s errors set the tone for the second half. Junior Amone and Tyrone Sloan lifted the visitors during this period and two converted tries levelled the scores with just over twenty minutes remaining.
In a tense ending to the match, the two sides exchanged penalty goals then tried to position themselves for field goals, but the deadlock couldn’t be broken.
Harold Matthews Cup
Parramatta 28 (Tries: Lafai, Sinclair, Spence, Martin 2. Goals: Sanders 4) defeated Illawarra 12
Tarsha Gale Cup
Illawarra 42 defeated Parramatta 12 (Tries: Kennard, Payne. Goals: Kolomaka, Terare)
SG Ball Cup
Parramatta 20 (Tries: Taateo2, Chappell. Goals: Chappell 4) drew with Illawarra 20
Round 4 Team of the Week
2. Cooper Sinclair
3. Charlie Guymer
4. Jabriel Kalache
5. Josh Lealaiaulto
6. Joshua Chappell
7. Ethan Sanders
20. Losalio Payne
9. Vlado Jankovic
10. Brock Parker
11. Domenic Destradis
12. Saxon Pryke
13. Myles Martin
14. Blaise Talagi
15. Larry Muagututia
16. Genesis Talagi-Seuala
17. Raffael Destradis