The Parramatta Eels have defied the expectations of most by opening their 2019 season with a 20-12 win over the Penrith Panthers in front of a packed crowd at Panthers Stadium.
Sydney’s torrential rain created an error-filled game. Penrith were particularly ineffective in maintaining possession. Yet despite the rain, Parramatta demonstrated they weren’t afraid to chance their arm, with Blake Ferguson batting the ball back to assist Marata Niukore score the opening try. Soon after, Dylan Brown showed his class when he threw short ball to Shaun Lane, who would run through a hole and put Michael Jennings in for the second try of the first half. Parramatta would go into the break up eight points with memories of the corresponding game a year ago firmly fixed in each supporter’s mind.
Parramatta continued their ways in the second half with an early try to Reed Mahoney. Penrith looked to be out of the contest when Maika Sivo crossed over in the corner, however, the referee referred it to the Bunker and subsequently ruled it to be a no try due to a high tackle from Jennings in the lead up to the play. This was nearly a game-changing call, as Jennings was sent to the sin bin for ten minutes, which provided Penrith with the opportunity to score two successive tries to James Tamou and Wayde Egan.
Jennings extinguished Penrith’s hopes of a comeback when he amended for his earlier error with a game-winning try in the 76th minute. Although inconsistent with the boot throughout the game, Mitchell Moses was able to convert Jennings’ try to give Parramatta a game-winning eight point lead, allowing Parramatta to register their first win of the 2019 season.
Blake Ferguson impresses at his new club
Ferguson resumed where he left off in 2018 with a solid showing for the Parramatta Eels. The Penrith attack seemed to target him in the opening half with a high ball after high ball, but Ferguson was as safe as they come. He made a combined 159 metres with his carries, helped set up the opening try and nearly crossed for his own in what was a very promising start for Parramatta.
Penrith Panthers discipline lets them down
Penrith were their own worst enemy throughout the afternoon. In total, they made 15 errors, which certainly played a role in their defeat. There were occasions where their mistakes gifted Parramatta possession in prime position, which made it difficult for them to build any sort of momentum. Ivan Cleary would not be happy with their lack of respect for the ball, but one would imagine they will get better as the season goes on.
Dylan Brown solid on debut
It’s clear why the wraps on Dylan Brown have been big. The young man played with a cool head and demonstrated his talent when he laid on a short pass for Shaun Lane that would send him through a hole and eventually lead to a Jennings try. Parramatta fans will be hoping he continues to develop and grow over the course of the season.
Nathan Brown injured
Unfortunately, Nathan Brown was taken off the field early due to what was reported as an injury to his left pectoral muscle. The hard working forward who has often been one of Parramatta’s best in seasons gone by has had a bad run with injuries and that is set to continue, with an expected three-month spell on the sidelines as he recovers from his latest setback.
Penrith Panthers – 12
Tries: Wayde Egan, James Tamou
Goals: Nathan Cleary 2/2
Parramatta Eels – 20
Tries: Marata Niukore, Michael Jennings, Reed Mahoney, Michael Jennings
Goals: Mitchell Moses 2/4
Penrith Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards, 2. Josh Mansour, 3. Dean Whare, 4. Waqa Blake, 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 6. James Maloney, 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. James Tamou, 14. Wayde Egan, 16. Moses Leota, 12. Isaah Yeo, 17. Hame Sele, 13. James Fisher-Harris. Interchange: 10. Regan Campbell-Gillard, 11. Jack Hetherington, 15. Tyrell Fuimaono, 18. Jarome Luai
Parramatta Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson, 2. Maika Sivo, 3. Michael Jennings, 4. Brad Takairangi, 5. Blake Ferugson, 6. Dylan Brown, 7. Mitchell Moses, 8. Daniel Alvaro, 9. Reed Mahoney, 10. Tepai Moeroa, 11. Shaun Lane, 12. Marata Niukore, 13. Nathan Brown. Interchange: 14. Will Smith, 15. Tim Mannah, 16. Kane Evans, 17. David Gower