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Eels complete comeback win over Manly

The Eels came from behind twice to end Manly’s perfect start to the season, scoring a memorable 28-24 win in their return to CommBank Stadium on Sunday.

The Eels trailed 14-0 after just 12 minutes and then 18-16 at halftime, but their brave responses carried them across the line in front of a 20,354-strong home crowd.

Blaize Talagi scored a try on his NRL debut as he became Eel #844, and celebrated post-game with his enormous cheer squad of friends and family in emotional scenes.

NRL Match Highlights: Eels v Sea Eagles

Reagan Campbell-Gillard also enjoyed a fantastic milestone afternoon, as he reached 200 NRL appearances.

New recruits Morgan Harper and Kelma Tuilagi each scored a try against their former club, and were joined on the scoresheet by Will Penisini, Mitchell Moses and Talagi.

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The Sea Eagles started enthusiastically, flying out to an 14-0 lead inside 12 minutes.

Manly kicked off proceedings with a penalty goal, and from the subsequent kick-off grabbed the opening try. The Sea Eagles found space on the right edge inside their own half, and Reuben Garrick kicked downfield for Tom Trbojevic to score.

The visitors quickly found their way back into attacking territory, and added their second try with a routine backline shift to winger Jaxson Paulo.

Despite the slow start, the Eels showed plenty of character and fought their way back into the contest.

On just the Eels’ second attacking opportunity, Mitchell Moses floated a kick across the face of the goal posts. Clint Gutherson attracted the defence’s attention as he rose for the football, only for it to fall for an unmarked Will Penisini to score.

Penisini pinches a try

Clint Gutherson, on goal-kicking duties once again, converted to narrow the score to 14-6 after 20 minutes.

Moments later, the Eels were right back into the contest as they scored their second try.

Attacking the Sea Eagles’ goal-line defence, J’maine Hopgood shifted the ball right to a rampaging Junior Paulo. The Eels Co-Captain spun into the defence and kept an arm free to deliver a pinpoint offload for Mitchell Moses to slide over and score.

Perfection from Paulo & Moses

With all the momentum and the home crowd behind them, the Eels then stormed into the lead with an unforgettable try.

From a scrum the Eels swung the ball to the left edge, where debutant Blaize Talagi stormed onto the football and over the top of Tom Trbojevic for his first try in the NRL.

Blaize Talagi scores on NRL debut!

Talagi’s family and friends blew the roof off CommBank Stadium with their cheers, as the young back was swamped by his teammates in scenic celebrations.

The Talagi family celebrates with Blaize

Parramatta found themselves ahead 16-14, but gave up their lead on the brink of halftime when Reuben Garrick scored in the corner.

Manly were on top at the interval, but a pair of former Sea Eagles ensured it would not stay that way.

The Eels were quick to regain the lead on the other side of half-time, as a gorgeous cut-out pass by Dylan Brown sent Morgan Harper sliding over in the corner.

Brilliant Brown pass sends Harper over

Fellow ex-Manly man Kelma Tuilagi added salt to the wound 15 minutes later, when he steamed over off of Mitchell Moses’ spectacular short ball close to the line.

Tuilagi's first try in Blue & Gold

Leading 26-18, the Eels could not afford complacency in the final quarter of play.

They were given an enormous scare when Tolutau Koula touched down, but the try was rubbed out due to obstruction in the lead-up.

Mitchell Moses gave the Eels extra breathing room when he knocked over a penalty goal, but the Sea Eagles would not die wondering.

Sean Russell made a fantastic cover tackle to win possession at a pivotal moment late on, but the Sea Eagles eventually got their grandstand finish when Corey Waddell crashed over.

Manly pushed for a late winner, but the Eels’ defence held firm.

Josh Aloiai was sent to the sin bin in the closing stages as tensions boiled over, and the home support rose to their feet to count down the seconds.

The Eels will look to continue their winning ways in Round 4 as they host the annual Easter Monday encounter with Wests Tigers at CommBank Stadium.

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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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