Brendan Wood reviews the Parramatta Eels 28-24 win over the Wests Tigers on Saturday night. Here’s how the game went.
|6th||Try – Blake Ferguson (Eels)||Eels 4-0|
|10th||Try – Tommy Talau (Tigers)||4 All|
|21st||Try – Maika Sivo (Eels)||Eels 10-4|
|26th||Try – Luciano Leilua (Tigers)||Eels 10-8|
|38th||Try – Brad Takairangi (Eels)||Eels 16-8|
|43rd||Try – Tommy Talau (Tigers)||Eels 16-12|
|50th||Try – Asu Kepaoa (Tigers)||16 All|
|53rd||Try – Luke Brooks (Tigers)||Tigers 22-16|
|57th||Penalty Goal – Adam Doueihi (Tigers)||Tigers 24-16|
|66th||Try – Reed Mahoney (Eels)||Tigers 24-22|
|73rd||Try – Will Smith (Eels)||Eels 28-24|
There was plenty of emotion in the air as Chris Lawrence and Benji Marshall ran out one last time for the Tigers. The Eels were out to spoil their send-off however, as they got an early overlap and scored the first try through Blake Ferguson.
Maika Sivo almost got their second a few minutes later but was stopped by an Adam Doueihi shoulder charge. Doueihi was put on report for the tackle, but Parramatta couldn’t execute following the penalty.
As a result, the Tigers got their first attacking opportunity of the game and levelled the scores. Tommy Talau beating the Eels cover defence to score in the corner.
In the next attacking set, Tigers fans had their hearts in their mouths when Benji Marshall went down with multiple injuries after a heavy tackle. He was forced from the field for a HIA and was doubtful to return.
The Eels were unaffected by the departure of Marshall and grabbed their second try just minutes later. This time the Tigers were unable to stop Maika Sivo who scored off the back of an Andrew Davey offload close to the line.
Despite conceding points, the Tigers responded quickly when Luciano Leilua took on three Eels defenders from dummy half and found a way to score.
There were plenty of attacking breaks for the Eels in the next ten minutes and thought they had their third try through Waqa Blake, but the bunker found a knock-on in the lead up and overturned the decision.
They didn’t have to wait long for another chance, as Brad Takairangi left no doubt when he scored off a Clint Gutherson grubber to send the Eels into the break leading 16-8.
The Tigers received bad news during the break with confirmation Benji Marshall had suffered an MCL injury, ruling him out for the game.
Despite this news they started the second half with purpose. Adam Doueihi moved into the halves and made an immediate impact. He threw a cut-out pass to Tommy Talau who got his second try, once again beating the cover defence to the corner.
Doueihi was involved again just minutes later when he put up a towering attacking bomb. Blake Ferguson made a meal of the catch and Asu Kepaoa scooped up the loose ball to score in the corner.
In their next attacking set, the Tigers opened up the Eels again when Kepaoa made a linebreak. He drew Clint Gutherson across and passed inside for Luke Brooks to score, giving the Tigers the lead.
In a replica of their previous play, Kepaoa made another break down the left edge, this time the Eels were able to scramble back to make the tackle. However, they gave away a penalty on the next play and the Tigers opted to take the two points.
The next ten minutes saw the Eels wrestle back the momentum after having minimal possession. Junior Paulo found a late offload close to the line and Reed Mahoney scored under the posts, cutting the margin back to two.
With some renewed confidence, the Eels made the most of a Tigers error and scored again, this time through Will Smith to snatch the lead with five minutes remaining.
The Eels held off a surge from the Tigers in the final few minutes to win 28-24, booking a clash with the Melbourne Storm in the first week of the finals.
The highlight of the game was the Tigers response to the knee injury to Benji Marshall. With Marshall’s last game in Tigers colours cruelly cut short, his teammates came out in the second half and put the Eels to the sword. Down 16-8 at the break, they scored three tries in 13 minutes to put a dent in the Eels chances of making a top four birth.
To the Eels credit they bounced back in the late stages to spoil the Tigers party. Junior Paulo’s late offload in the Reed Mahoney try was a big reason they were able to get back in the game and secure a top four birth.
Tigers: 1. Adam Doueihi 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Tommy Talau 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Asu Kepaoa 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Zane Musgrove 9. Harry Grant 10. Thomas Mikaele 11. Luke Garner 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Alex Twal Bench: 14. Matt Eisenhuth 15. Elijah Taylor 16. Shawn Blore 17. Michael Chee-Kam.
Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 19. Brad Takairangi 4. Waqa Blake 5. Blake Ferguson 14. Will Smith 7. Mitchell Moses 16. Kane Evans 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 15. Andrew Davey 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Nathan Brown Bench: 11. Shaun Lane 17. Oregon Kaufusi 20. George Jennings 21. Daniel Alvaro.