Eels debutant Sean Russell was a surprising selection ahead of Blake Ferguson but he repaid Brad Arthur's faith with a two-try effort.
Russell was mobbed by teammates, then family and friends after Parramatta consolidated third spot on the Telstra Premiership ladder with a 36-10 victory over Canterbury at Bankwest Stadium on Sunday.
A penalty try to Mitchell Moses sparked Parramatta to life after they were their own worst enemies with a 65% completion rate in the opening 40 minutes before firing to secure their 12th win of the season.
For 19-year-old Russell, who was told by Eels skipper Clint Gutherson he would be making his NRL debut earlier in the week, he finished off the match with two tries in three minutes to ice the win.
"I've been watching these boys for a long time, so to get to run out in this jersey at Bankwest is a dream come true," he said.
"I got told on Tuesday at training [I'm playing]. I thought I'd be a little bit worse [with nerves]. It didn’t really hit me until Wednesday night when I was lying in bed and it came to me. All the boys were messaging me.
Match: Eels v Bulldogs
Round 15 -
Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
"It's the best. It gives me a lot of confidence going into games knowing that they have my back like that."
Eels coach Brad Arthur said the side were "doing everything they could" to get Russell over the line in his maiden game, before praising the overall team performance.
"I thought both grades today were very professional. We set out a couple of weeks ago to come and frontload our energy over the next three games.
Welcome to the NRL, Sean Russell!
"Both the Cup boys and our guys were three from three over the last month. It's important these games we played were built on energy and effort.
"Our effort was excellent today. We executed poorly in the first half, and maybe even a bit in the second, but it wasn't my main concern."
Canterbury appeared on track to deliver an upset when they skipped to a 10-6 at half-time before a penalty try ruling against the visitors gave the Eels an upper hand.
The momentum swung when a Jeremy Marshall-King pass failed to find Jake Averillo and instead flew into an unaware Dylan Napa.
Moses did enough to get a foot on the ball before being dragged down by Brandon Wakeham in an illegal play. The Bunker didn't need long to settle on a penalty try.
From there, the Eels piled on a further two tries through forwards Shaun Lane and Reagan Campbell-Gillard to set up a comfortable lead.
Lane's effort was among the highlights of an otherwise scrappy afternoon. The bench forward was put into a hole by Nathan Brown before throwing a dummy to race a further 30-metre to the line.
Moses awarded penalty try
The Parra pack was on a roll again shortly after with NSW representative Junior Paulo sending fellow front-row teammate Reagan Campbell-Gillard over from short range.
"The luxury at our club is all our forwards can roll their sleeves up and carry hard but they've also got the ability to have a pass in them," Arthur said.
"That allows Gutho, Dylan and Mitchell to have a bit more freedom."
Canterbury's woes worsened to match a disastrous second half with Adam Elliott suffering a suspected cheekbone fracture and Luke Thompson sin-binned for a late shot on Dylan Brown.
Matterson ends up with a Moses kick for the opener
Earlier, the Bulldogs put up a gritty fight in conditions that suited their style of play.
Both sides traded tries via kicks that weren't cleaned up at either end of the field in the opening 30 minutes.
Ryan Matterson pounced on an Aaron Schoupp error early to open the scoring for the Eels, before Dylan Napa ended a 44-game try drought to collect a Haze Dunster mistake for his own four-pointer.
Parramatta conceded their second try of the afternoon when Marata Niukore was spending 10 minutes off the field following a high tackle on Josh Jackson.
The visitors were able to take advantage on the left edge with Wakeham sending Tuipulotu Katoa over in the corner.
That was where the momentum ended for the visitors, however, with Trent Barrett’s side having no answers for the Eels’ second-half blitz.
Niukore wasn't the only Eel on report in the clash with Nathan Brown penalised and cited for high contact.