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Junior Reps Wrap: Eels enter finals on a high

The Parramatta Eels secured a finals berth in three grades following the final round of matches in the Junior Reps season.

The SG Ball Cup team booked their finals ticket in dramatic fashion, scoring a try at the death to defeat Wests Magpies and secure a top-six finish.

The Harold Matthews Cup team ended their season undefeated but fell short of a top-two finish with a draw in their last match, while the Lisa Fiaola Cup side confirmed their finals qualification with a runaway win against Penrith.

The Tarsha Gale Cup side fell one point short of the top six, but ended their campaign with three consecutive wins including their final-round trampling of the Panthers.

The SG Ball, Harold Matthews and Lisa Fiaola teams will enjoy a week of rest before kicking off their finals campaigns next weekend.

SG Ball Cup

The Eels snatched a place in the SG Ball finals with a last-minute, match-winning try against Wests Magpies in remarkable scenes at Eric Tweedale Stadium on Good Friday.

Halves Lorenzo Talataina and Dylan Brettle were the Eels' heroes, combining for a decisive try at the death as their team stared down the barrel of defeat and an early exit from the competition.

The stunning win advances the Eels to Week 1 of the SG Ball Cup finals, where they will face the Bulldogs in an elimination showdown.

Tyrese Lokeni set up the Eels' first try when he powered into defenders then provided an offload for Oliver McCarthy to beat the covering tackles on his way to line.

Parramatta then extended the lead to eight points through a booming 40-metre penalty goal by Dominic Farrugia.

The Eels' next try was a near length-of-the-field effort from Mohamed Alameddine and Corey Leigh.

Running from dummy half ten out from the Eels line, Alameddine linked with Corey Leigh to send him on a gallop over halfway. The Eels winger then backed up to receive the return pass and kick clear of defenders in a 40-metre sprint to the corner.

Momentum then swung immediately back to the Magpies after the Eels fumbled the kick-off. Back to back tries to the visitors in the five minutes before half-time reduced the Eels' lead to just two points at the break.

Another try early in the second half gave the Magpies the lead for the first time in the match as the Eels struggled to arrest a string of errors.

A change in momentum was needed, and Lorenzo Talataina stepped up to the plate with a brilliant pass to Corey Leigh, who sliced through the defence line to score just to the right of the posts.

The Eels then extended their lead to eight when Wests fumbled a high kick and Elijah-Shane Tapau-Taylor was there to pick up the scraps and drag a defender over the line as he touched down.

As tensions rose, both sides struggled to complete sets but it was the Magpies who finally took advantage of the errors to post back-to-back tries.

It seemed like the Eels fate was sealed as the visitors had a two-point lead with just three minutes remaining on the clock.

However, Lorenzo Talataina had not finished his best-on-field performance.

With time ticking away and the Eels deep in their own half, the talented five-eighth stepped off his right foot and opened up the defence before finding Dylan Brettle in support. As the crowd erupted in delight, the Eels captain sprinted thirty metres to score beside the posts.

But the drama was not over.

Only three seconds remained on the clock as the Magpies attempted a short re-start. The Eels were then penalised for touching the ball inside ten metres giving the Magpies one final play. Fortunately, the Eels were able to defuse a desperate, final kick.

The incredible victory pushed the Eels to fifth place on the ladder and booked a date with the Bulldogs in Finals Week 1 at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday 14 April.

Eels 30 (Tries: Oliver McCarthy, Mohamed Alameddine, Corey Leigh, Elijah-Shane Tapau-Taylor, Dylan Brettle; Goals: Dominic Farrugia 5) defeated Magpies 26.

Harold Matthews Cup

A tense draw with the table-topping Magpies at Eric Tweedale Stadium on Good Friday saw the Eels end the regular Harold Matthews Cup season undefeated, but narrowly miss out on a top-two finish.

The Eels were on the board early when Lorima Rokosuka took a quick penalty tap and split the unsuspecting Magpies defence in a 70-metre run for the Eels' first try.

A sequence of Eels errors provided the opportunity for the Magpies to strike back and the visitors did just that with back-to-back tries late in the half to take a four-point lead.

The Eels were then ruled to have used an obstruction play when Nathan Howlett crossed just before the break, leaving the scoreboard unchanged as the siren sounded.

Parramatta drew level with Wests midway through the second half when Lincoln Fletcher feigned to pass and broke the defence. His cut-out pass then put Rokosuka down the sideline before Fletcher cleverly backed up for a return ball from his winger to score in the corner.

Soon after, the Eels took a six-point lead when Cyrus Bloomfield was tackled just short of the line and Sanjae Ulukini took his chance out of dummy half to grab a try.

Proceedings became tense in the last five minutes as Wests fought back with a converted try to lock up the scores, and then butchered a try when a pass was dropped with the line wide open.

Finally, a frantic last play from the Magpies resulted in an offside penalty to the Eels. Lincoln Fletcher opted to take an wide angled penalty goal attempt from 45 metres out.

In a dramatic conclusion to the match, he struck the kick magnificently, only for the ball to hit the upright and bounce back into the field of play.

Despite finishing undefeated, the result left the Eels in third place on the ladder behind the Bulldogs and the Magpies.

All three teams finished the season undefeated, with the Eels drawing both matches against the top-two sides.

The Eels will play the sixth-placed Warriors in week one of the finals at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday 14 April, ahead of the SG Ball match.

Eels 16 (Tries: Lorima Rokosuka, Lincoln Fletcher, Sanjae Ulu-Kini; Goals: Lincoln Fletcher 2) drew with Magpies 16.

Lisa Fiaola Cup

The Eels secured third place and a finals berth in the Lisa Fiaola Cup by dismantling the Panthers at Eric Tweedale Stadium.

Danielle Seckold opened the scoring after Fontayne Tufuga split the defence and found the second rower in support. Nikita E then added her first try of the day after receiving a sharp pass close to the line.

Penrith reduced the margin on the stroke of halftime with a try from a kick, but it would be their only score of the match.

When play resumed, the Eels simplified their game and it reaped rewards.

After the forwards advanced the football through the middle of the field to Penrith’s red zone, Bailey Ma-Chong seized the opportunity to dart out of dummy half and dive over between the sticks.

Logan Lemusu then channeled Ma-Chong with her own try from dummy half. Following the restart, Nikita E grabbed her second try in finishing a left-side raid. 

Fiafia Freedom Crichton Ropati completed the try scoring when she crossed out wide.

The Eels will face the sixth-placed Knights in week one of the finals at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday 13 April.

Eels 30 (Tries: Nikita E 2, Danielle Seckold, Bailey Ma-Chong, Logan Lemusu, Freedom Crichton Ropati; Goals: Anika Penitani 2, Bailey Ma-Chong) defeated Panthers 4.

Tarsha Gale Cup

The Eels completed their emphatic end to the Tarsha Gale Cup season with a 32-point shutout of the Panthers at Eric Tweedale Stadium.

Despite starting the season slowly and falling out of finals qualification, the Eels ended the season with three consecutive wins, finishing off with a resounding victory over Penrith.

Leonia Vei was first to score after an unstoppable diagonal charge to the line. Raphaella Perigo then continued her recent excellent form when she offloaded in contact to Leila Black for the Eels second try.

The Eels' lead was extended to 16 points by half time when Ryvrr Lee Alo brushed off defenders to lunge over between the posts.

Raphaella Perigo was back in the action early in the second half to deliver the Eels' next points. With the Panthers under pressure, she skipped to the outside of a defender and sliced through to score a fine solo try.

Soon after, Micaela Bourne provided a perfect pass for Avena Ngata to dive over out wide. Bourne then posted a try of her own with a powerful charge to the corner.

With just a couple of minutes remaining, Parramatta put an exclamation mark on their victory when quick hands set up Avena Ngata for her second try of the match.

The win saw the Eels finish the season on a mighty high, and completed a 62-4 aggregate win over Penrith across the Tarsha Gale Cup and Lisa Fiaola Cup competitions.

Eels 32 (Tries: Avena Racoma Ngata 2, Liaina Dimech, Leila Black, Ryvrr-Lee Alo, Raphaella Perigo, Lindsay Tui; Goals: Bella Sandford, Dallis Graham-Withell) defeated Panthers 0.

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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