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2021 NRL Round 16, Panthers 13 Eels 12 – Report

Mitch Bourke reviews the Friday night thriller between Penrith and Parramatta. Here’s how the game went.

SCOREBOARD

Panthers 13

Tries: Tyrone May (34), Apisai Koroisau (50).

Goals: Stephen Crichton (35, 52).

One-Point Field Goal: Matt Burton (78).

Eels 12

Tries: Maika Sivo (22), Isaiah Papali’i (41).

Goals: Mitch Moses (42, 56 – pen).

Player of the Year Points

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3 pts – Apisai Koroisau (Penrith Panthers)
2 pts – Isaiah Papali’i (Parramatta Eels)
1 pt – Tyrone May (Penrith Panthers)

MATCH REPORT

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1st Half

The western Sydney derby was all it was hyped up to be, and then some.

Penrith was looking to secure its place in the top two, while Parramatta was looking to break in.

Both sides had to work their way into the contest, and after 20 minutes of back and forth, Maika Sivo ripped off the shackles.

The benefactor of a pressuring Mitch Moses kick, and a Clint Gutherson overhead pass, Sivo scrapped and willed his way to the left corner on all fours, evading three Penrith defenders in the process.

From there, Parramatta was in control, hounding the Panthers’ line until a Brent Naden intercept ripped the momentum from their clutches.

Minutes later, Tyrone May zeroed in on the in-goal, and Penrith took a 6-4 lead. It was a testament to their prowess.

The Eels owned the half for the most part, but the Panthers fought hard to stay within touch, and when their opportunity came, they grabbed it with both hands.

HALF-TIME: Penrith Panthers 6 Parramatta Eels 4

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2nd Half

Moses’ kicking game had haunted Charlie Staines all night, and as his high bomb grazed the Penrith clouds, a spooked Staines froze in terror.

His fateful decision to let the Steeden bounce amidst a wave of blue and gold runners proved costly as Isaiah Papli’i stole it from his grasp, and forced his way home under the posts.

Not a side to sit idle, the Panthers got to work recovering from their horror start to the second half, ultimately striking back through Apisai Koroisau.

He skipped past Shaun Lane a little too easily and gunned to the line, putting Penrith ahead by two, but not for long.

An illegal strip ruling dealt the Panthers a double blow, as they wasted their Captain’s Challenge before Moses coolly converted the penalty goal to level things up.

The 12-12 scoreline that ensued would bind the sides for a tense 20-minute period, as Golden Point loomed.

With three and a half minutes on the clock, Penrith blinked first: Matt Burton lined up a field goal attempt that shattered into the woodwork.

Moses didn’t waste time replying, sweetly striking an audacious attempt from 55 metres that skewed left.

A minute and a half now remained, and Burton rose to the occassion, piercing the uprights to gift his side a one-point advantage.

With the stands ghostly empty as a result of New South Wales’ lockdown, Burton’s joyous and relieved cheer echoed throughout BlueBet Stadium.

The Panthers were home and hosed for all money, but this blockbuster wasn’t done dishing up surprises.

Desperate for a miracle, Parramatta’s prayers were answered when Waqa Blake was obstructed by Liam Martin in pursuit of the short kick-off.

The referee’s whistle was a brutal blow, culling Panthers celebrations across the country.

Every player was reduced to a spectator, except one Mitch Moses.

And with the weight of the match coursing through his muscles, his 31-metre kick drifted left, missing by a matter of centimetres.

Eels hearts shattered, while Panthers hearts broken just seconds ago mended.

They had survived the ultimate scare, and all without Nathan Cleary.

FULL-TIME: Penrith Panthers 13 Parramatta Eels 12

Injuries

Jarome Luai (Panthers) – medial ligament

Match Review Committee

to be advised

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