A hat-trick to former NRL centre, Tim Simona has helped lowly Blacktown to a shock 34-24 win over Parramatta at Bankwest Stadium on Sunday.
In an entertaining contest despite the gap on the ladder between teams three and 11 coming into this round, scores were locked at the main break before Simona imposed himself on the game in the second half to enable the visitors to regain a lead they would never relinquish.
An early try in just the second minute to Parramatta hooker Nathaniel Roache was cancelled out 15 minutes later by a runaway 95-metre try to Blacktown’s Tim Simona. The latter’s try was scored against the run of play after Parramatta centre Michael Oldfield lost possession in a jolting tackle.
Five minutes later, Blacktown hooker Brad Keighran popped a short pass close to the line for backrower Jordan Leiu to reach out and score next to the posts to give the visitors a shock 12-6 lead after 24 minutes.
But just as Blacktown appeared to be getting on top, a charge down and regather by Eels back-rower Ray Stone saw scores level at 12-all on the half-hour mark, which would remain the score until the main break despite the best attempts of both sides to recapture the lead.
It would be Blacktown who would eventually regain the lead off an Eels error early in the second half to lead by six once more, after five-eighth Kauri Aupouri-Puketapu scored from close range.
The visitors extended the lead beyond six for the first time five minutes later with some brilliant backline play inside the Eels' 20 that ended in a second try to Simona and with Keighran having a day out with the boot, Blacktown suddenly led 24-12.
But with a little bit of favourable possession, the home side hit back in the 54th minute with a try out wide to back-rower Elie El-Zakhem, after a quick shift right caught the Blacktown defence napping. With the successful conversion from Jordan Rankin, the Eels were well and truly back in the hunt trailing 24-18.
Tim Simona, however, had other ideas and notched up his hat-trick in the 58th minute when he finished off another slick back-line move, crossing over in the south-west corner to give Blacktown a handy ten-point lead.
Just as the Eels looked certain to score and get back into the contest once more, Blacktown scrambled brilliantly to deny winger Haze Dunster the opportunity to score in the north-east corner.
When it looked like the Eels could score again with another set inside the Sea Eagles’ 20, a lost carry was gratefully received by winger Tolutau Koula to streak away 90m to score under the posts and extend Blacktown’s lead to 34-18 with five minutes remaining.
A converted try in the corner to Oldfield gave the Eels a faint hope in the 77th minute, but the visitors were able to hang on for one of the upset wins of the season despite being reduced to twelve men when Jorge Taufua was sent to the sin-bin.
Parramatta will now to look to bounce back next Saturday when they take on South Sydney, while Blacktown will be looking for their third win in a row when they travel north next Sunday to take on Newcastle.
By Stewart Moses