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NSW Cup Eels fall short on Easter Monday

By Mitchell Farrugia

The Western Suburbs Magpies have defeated the Parramatta Eels in a tightly fought contest at Stadium Australia.

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As both sides settled nicely into the game, it took a barnstorming 30-metre Joey Leilua run to break the Eels defence, allowing promising hooker Jake Simpkin to scoot over from dummy half for his fifth try in four matches.

With momentum in the Magpies’ favour, they continued to attack down the left-hand side. A quick-fire pass from Michael Chee Kam saw Jock Madden race away to narrowly score in the corner. After two unsuccessful conversion attempts, the Magpies led 8-0.

However, despite Western Suburbs appearing on top, Parramatta began to control the field position as the half went on. This led the Eels to their first points of the afternoon, as enforcer Ky Rodwell’s close-range effort saw him score under the posts. 

Following the Eels’ first try, a cross-field kick from Jakob Arthur was caught uncontested by centre Will Penisini who strolled into the in-goal to score. This put Parramatta ahead for the first time in the match as the scores sat at 12-8.

It wasn’t long before speedster Allan Fitzgibbon streaked into space, creating a break for the Magpies who once again shifted down the left-hand side of the field. Michael Chee Kam put the ball on a platter for Joey Leilua to score untouched.

Neither side could mount a substantial attack in the final ten minutes of the first half as Western Suburbs headed into the sheds leading 14-12.

Four minutes into the second half Joey Leilua showcased his strength again, holding off some Eels defenders and flicking a ball to winger Kiah Cooper who was able to score for the Magpies, extending their lead to six points.

Western Suburbs continued to punish the right edge defence of the Eels as slick passing saw Kiah Cooper dive over for his second try of the match, moments after his first. Jock Madden was able to convert the try from the touchline.

Not down and out just yet, the Eels’ quick pace in attack saw young half Jakob Arthur skip through a hole to hit back, narrowing the deficit.

With only six points separating the sides, the Magpies again shifted further ahead. This time down the right flank with Reece Hoffman picking up a try.

Again attempting to force their way back into the contest, the Eels floated a sloppy pass wayward and into the arms of Magpies half Jock Madden who was able to speed away for his second try of the Easter Monday clash. 

Both sides defensively opened up as the second half continued, with Parramatta prop Makahesi Makatoa barging his way over the try line in the final ten minutes. Shortly after, new recruit for the Eels Tim Lafai added his name to the score sheet as they stripped the Magpies for numbers.

Despite reducing the margin to four points, Western Suburbs were able to add two points via a penalty goal to grind out a 34-28 win, handing rivals Parramatta their first loss of the 2021 season.