Parramatta Eels 32 (Willie Tonga, Nathan Peats, Manu Ma’u, Semi Radradra, Jarryd Hayne, Ken Sio tries; Chris Sandow 4 goals)
Penrith Panthers 16 (Isaac John, Lewis Brown, Dean Whare tries; Matt Moylan 2 goals)
Chris Sandow has made a winning return to the National Rugby League in guiding Parramatta to a sixteen point victory over Western Sydney rivals Penrith at Pirtek Stadium.
Parramatta scored four tries to one in the second half. The Panthers decline began when Adam Docker spilled the ball following a hit-up after Dean Whare had poked the visitors in front for the only time of the match. Manu Ma’u barged over the line from short range to put the Eels ahead 18-16 after forty-eight minutes.
Semi Radradra scored his seventh try for the season with twenty minutes left on the clock. Too quick and strong for experienced winger David Simmons on his way to the line. With the Eels dominating possession against an error riddled Panthers, Jarryd Hayne and Ken Sio scored late tries to secure a big win.
Parramatta held a narrow lead heading into half time thanks to a long range intercept try to Willie Tonga and Nathan Peats’ try from dummy half. Penrith’s tries came from Issac John who found space after Matt Moylan ran across field to link up with the half, called up as a late replacement for Peter Wallace who succumbed to a groin injury for a second consecutive week. Lewis Brown emulated Peats’ dummy half try with one of his own. With Moylan’s conversion off-line, the Eels took a two point lead into the break.
Opportunities went begging in the first half for both sides as the game was played at a quick pace on a slippery surface. For Penrith Kevin Naiqama couldn’t grab a Jamie Soward cross-field kick. Adam Docker was held up as he tried to force his way over the line. Parramatta could have been unlucky with the video ref ruling an off-side play in the lead-up to a great try to Will Hopoate. In the lead-up one chaser was in front of the kicker and then became involved in the play.
It appeared the Panthers last two tight contests caught up with them in the second half as they fell off the pace. Ivan Cleary showing disappointment at the post-match press conference, saying the performance was the worse of 2014. Josh Mansour, Peter Wallace and out-of-favour prop Tim Grant will be pressing for selection as they face Canberra at home next round.
Chris Sandow in playing his first National Rugby League game since July 8 last year, eased into the game. As the Eels started to dominate in the final forty, Sandow started to show signs of what he’s capable of. Eels fans will be hoping that Sandow can continue to improve as he tries to resurrect his career. They now travel to Suncorp Stadium full of confidence as they face Brisbane.