It was a game that Parramatta Eels threatened to open right up with an eighteen point lead just after half-time, but it was a spirited Penrith Panthers who made a game of it despite going down 18-12 at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.
COREY NORMAN CLASS
This might have been Corey Norman’s best performance for the Eels this season with a dominant forty-five minute display which saw him score two tries and set up Semi Radradra with a perfectly timed cross-field kick right on half-time.
With the Eels now sitting in tenth with eight competition points, Norman will need to be at his best before representative week when his side travels up to Townsville for their clash with the Cowboys.
COREY HARAWIRA-NAERA CONTINUES TO GROW
It’s hard to believe just over a month ago Corey Harawira-Naera made his debut for the Panthers in their last victory, against the Newcastle Knights 40-0 where he scored on debut.
Playing in the second row, Harawira-Naera played the full 80 minutes and made 173 metres from sixteen runs with two line breaks, scoring a well deserved try to breath some life into the game.
What remains a mystery is why he was not selected against Cronulla Sharks a week earlier despite being one of the Panthers best in losing to South Sydney.
BOTH SIDES MUST LEARN TO PLAY EIGHTY MINUTES
We’re eight rounds into the season and the display from both sides was below par.
Penrith appeared disinterested in the first forty minutes but found their groove before showing some disorganisation at the back end of the game after regularly breaking the Eels line. Nathan Cleary seemed to have more chances to dictate play after in the second half with Matt Moylan not getting in the way so much.
Parramatta were on fire for the first fifty minutes but lost their way in the final thirty. Watching the game it felt that despite Penrith being well behind on the scoreboard that the game could head towards golden point. And it nearly did.
Both sides ended on fifteen errors each as the game become scrappy at the back end of the match.
CAN PENRITH’S SEASON BE SAVED?
Penrith’s fourth loss in a row sees them anchored in the bottom four heading into the second-third of the season.
Their run doesn’t get any easier with a trip to Brisbane this Thursday night to take on the Broncos before the representative round.
A home game with the Warriors and a trip to Newcastle before a bye in round 12 awaits the Panthers.
It’s crucial they win at least two of the next three going into round 12 to reignite their season. Anything less may result in their season being over before reaching the halfway point of 2017.