Penrith Panthers 20
Tries: Isaah Yeo, David Simmons, Bryce Cartwright, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
Goals: Peter Wallace 2/3, Bryce Cartwright 0/1
Parramatta Eels 26
Tries: Semi Radradra 2, Reece Robinson, Ryan Morgan
Goals: Chris Sandow 5/5
The Parramatta Eels left their position at lone last-place on the NRL ladder on Friday night after defeating the Penrith Panthers 26-20 at Pepper Stadium. There was a fightback in the second half from the home side who, egged on by a strong 17,821 crowd, almost bagged the two points if it weren’t for a poor first-half display which saw them losing 14-0.
Fresh from his appearance in Origin on Wednesday night, Hopoate was the topic of worry pre-game as he left the training paddock early with a groin injury. However once back on the field to start the fixture, Hopoate silenced the confident crowd at Penrith with a brilliant assist to Ryan Morgan who scored the first try. Chris Sandow, now at halfback after his struggle against the Rabbitohs, aced the conversion from the sideline.
It only took another minute for the Eels to strike again, this time through the form of Fijian winger Semi Radradra who bolted down the sideline before assisting to Reece Robinson who completed the effort. It was an impressive start to a fixture where they were undoubtedly underdogs, the Eels then capped it off with Sandow converting the try and a penalty goal in the thirtieth minute.
Despite the loss of Matt Moylan to injury, the Panthers were able to hit back in the fiftieth minute with 20-year old Isaah Yeo crossing the line for the home side’s first points. But the luck was short lived as five-eighth Jamie Soward was injured in the process of the try, meaning substitute Bryce Cartwright would take the conversion which drifted wide of the posts.
Cartwright was quick to avenge himself in the fifty-fifth minute with a brilliant dummy and then offload to set up centre David Simmons’ try. The home side were now back in the game and this time peter Wallace was to take the conversion, where again it was long-distance that took its toll on the Panthers’ kicking game.
Soon Cartwright was at it again with a brilliant run through the Eels’ defensive line to allow Panthers captain Peter Wallace to tie the scores with his conversion.
A grubber kick from Brad Takairangi in the sixtieth minute saw Semi Radradra dive over the line for what would be his first of two tries in six minutes. The officials on the ground were ok with the decision but sent the effort upstairs to check whether Radradra was onside before receiving the ball. The try was confirmed and the home crowd was in shock at the quick turnaround.
Radradra quickly made it 24-14 with another great individual effort, but controversy surrounded the try’s awarding as replays showed an infringement committed when Cartwright had played the ball for the Panthers a minute earlier. Chris Sandow retained his 100% kicking rate for the night with his fifth successful conversion.
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak gave a last gasp of hope for the Panthers with his try in the seventieth minute to put the scores at a one-try difference, but the Eels held on in the end for their first win in five fixtures.