Parramatta Eels: 16 (Radradra 2, Hayne tries; Sandow 2 goals)
Canterbury Bulldogs: 18 (Eastwood, Brown, Tolman tries; Hodkinson 3 goals)
The Parramatta Eels finals aspirations appear all but over after they lost 18-16 to a gritty Canterbury Bulldogs outfit at ANZ stadium on Friday night.
The match was not without controversy, with the Eels taking a quick tap late in the game following a superb 40/20 from halfback Chris Sandow, only for the Parramatta players to be called back as they had been given the wrong ball by the ball boy on the sideline.
And while the incident sparked debate, and cost the Eels side a possible victory, it was the Dog’s defence that was the deciding factor in the game.
After suffering four straight losses, the Bulldogs looked to take the ascendency early, and took the lead through a charging Greg Eastwood after just five minutes of play.
The Eels responded in the 20th minute through none other than fullback Jarryd Hayne, outleaping everyone to claim a Chris Sandow cross field chip to score near the uprights and lock the game at 6-all.
But the Bulldogs responded almost immediately when some poor defence from Eel Ryan Morgan allowed opposite Tim Lafai to pull in extra defenders before offloading to Mitch Brown to score.
They then extended their lead to twelve, when the Eels defenders again fell asleep, allowing Aiden Tolman to hit a hole close to the line, push past the loan defender and score.
David Gower looked likely to respond for the Eels, as the Bulldogs replied with some poor missed tackles at the other end, however fullback Sam Perrett pulled down the charging interchange forward short of the line.
But the fullback could do nothing to stop the next try, as the Eels shifted the ball right. Canterbury winger Brown rushed up to shut down Hayne, however an incredible tap on from the Eel’s maestro allowed Sami Radradra a clear dive in to the corner.
Sandow couldn’t convert the try from out wide, leaving the score 18-10 at half time.
The Eels came out firing in the second forty, and again found success shifting the ball right to Sami Radradra and after 5 minutes of the second half, the Bulldogs lead was down to two.
The try set up a frantic final 35 minutes of football.
In an end to end game of football, both teams were making metres up the park, but not converting the field position to points.
Trent Hodkinson reached out in an attempt to lock up the game after 70minutes, however lost the ball as he tried to plant it.
And with just over two minutes to go the Sandow 40/20 gave the initiative to steal the game to Parramatta, however when the quick tap was denied, the Bulldogs had time to set their line and hold the Eels out and maintain their two point margin for a much needed win.