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Parramatta are into their first preliminary final in 13 years after a barnstorming first half set up a 40-4 victory over the Raiders at CommBank Stadium on Friday night. 

The Eels racked up four tries in the opening 25 minutes to orchestrate a 22-0 lead against a Raiders side that was a shadow of themselves from the previous week in Melbourne. 

Brad Arthur's side went on with the job in the second term with Mitchell Moses outstanding in his return from a head knock and Clint Gutherson producing a captain's knock at the back to help guide the side to victory. 

It was a breakthrough win for the Eels, who have previously fallen short in week two of the finals on four occasions under Arthur. 

An error from Jordan Rapana started a horror opening for the Green Machine with Will Penisini crossing early before an unfortunate bounce for Xavier Savage saw Tom Opacic pounce on the error in-goal. 

Moses' effort to send Waqa Blake over on the right edge with a long cut-out pass continued the momentum before Junior Paulo got over the line untouched.

The Raiders bounced back through a piece of brilliance from Savage to offer a glimmer of hope for Ricky Stuart's side in the second half but the Eels were in no mood to let the visitors back into it.

Paulo's ability to offload in the middle was wreaking havoc on the Raiders' defence with the NSW representative popping a ball for Moses to run away and score a memorable four-pointer.

Moses overcome a 15-minute head injury assessment after heavy contact from Jack Wighton in the second half to get back on the field with Parramatta's sixth of the evening sending the Eels into an elusive preliminary final. 

Parra are flying

Match snapshot

  • The match was the first time the Eels and Raiders had ever played each other in a finals game. 
  • The Eels led the offload count 20-9 and enjoyed 61% of possession throughout the evening, highlighting their dominance in the victory.
  • Parramatta have not featured in a preliminary final since 2009 ahead of the side's clash against the Cowboys next week. 
  • Canberra lost forward Corey Harawira-Naera to a failed HIA after he collected the hip of Reagan Campbell-Gillard in a tackle attempt seven minutes into his stint. 
  • The Eels have won now won five of their last six games against the Raiders.
  • Eels captain Clint Gutherson, five-eighth Dylan Brown and back-rowers Shaun Lane and Isaiah Papali'i all ran for over 200 metres each in the win.
  • Eels centre Tom Opacic left the field in the second half with a hamstring injury and will be assessed. 
  • Raiders centre Sebastian Kris left the field late for a HIA and did not return.
  • Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton was placed on report late for a dangerous tackle on Mitchell Moses that enabled a penalty goal to the Eels late. 
  • Raiders forward Corey Horsburgh topped the tackle count for the visitors with 55. 

Plays of the game

Parramatta's forward pack had all the momentum throughout the evening with Junior Paulo not only crossing for a try but setting up his half Mitchell Moses, who streaked away for a 50-metre stunner in the corner to set the tone for the second half.

Moses burns them all

Departing forward Marata Niukore's second try on the stroke of full-time iced the win with a try of the season nomination sending the Eels crowd into raptures on the siren.

Niukore grabs another on the bell

What they said

"It's good, I was proud of the boys and I'm happy for the club but the jobs are not finished, we've got a big week ahead of us and I'm looking forward to it. I thought we went out there tonight and backed ourselves. We went after it whereas maybe against Penrith we were a bit tentative and didn't play to our strengths. We've just got to go after the game and see what happens." - Eels coach Brad Arthur.

"We weren't good enough, they were far superior. Well-coached by Brad and they were on tonight. They got us early and when you've got 35-40% of the football playing against a team that were on tonight. That game doesn't define these blokes, the team, the club, I could not be prouder of the journey we've been on and the difficulties we were confronted with, I'm very proud of them. Disappointed with the result, absolutely, we didn't beat ourselves we got beaten by a better team." - Raiders coach Ricky Stuart.

NRL Press Conference: Eels v Raiders - Finals Week 2, 2022

What's next

Parramatta will travel to Queensland Country Bank Stadium next week for a preliminary final clash against the Cowboys, the first time since 2009 they've reached a grand final qualifier. 

The Raiders season is officially over but a host of players are expected to back up next month and represent their nations at the Rugby League World Cup including Joseph Tapine (New Zealand), Josh Papalii (Samoa) and Elliott Whitehead (England).

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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