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2021 NRL Round 25, Eels 6 Panthers 40 – Report

Brendan Wood reviews the Penrith Panthers comfortable 40-6 win over the Parramatta Eels. Here’s how the game went.

SCOREBOARD

Parramatta Eels 6

Tries: Tom Opacic (14)

Goals: Blake Ferguson (15)

Penrith Panthers 40

Tries: Brian To’o (5, 44, 66) Tevita Pangai Jr (18) Matt Burton (55) Api Koroisau (58), Nathan Cleary (74)

Goals: Nathan Cleary (6, 19, 45, 56, 68, 75)

Player of the Year Points

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3 pts – Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers)
2 pts – Brian To’o (Penrith Panthers)
1 pt – Api Koroisau (Penrith Panthers)

MATCH REPORT

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1st Half

The Panthers wasted no time opening the scoring against an understrength Eels side. Off the back of a scrum, the ball went through the hands and found Brian To’o who powered his way over the line.

Shortly after conceding points, an error from Eels fullback Haze Perham gave the Panthers another opportunity. This time the execution wasn’t up to scratch when Stephen Crichton knocked-on over the line.

The Eels used the seven-tackle set to get inside the Panthers half. At the end of the set, Jacob Arthur threaded a grubber into the in-goal and Tom Opacic beat all chasers to the loose ball to grab the equaliser.

The scores didn’t remain level for long, as it took less than five minutes for the Panthers to snatch the lead back. With attacking field position, Nathan Cleary threw a short ball to Tevita Pangai Jr who couldn’t be stopped close to the line.

After going down by six, the Eels started their fightback by building pressure. They forced several repeat sets in a row but eventually were their own worst enemy, making an error to let the Panthers off the hook.

The remainder of the half was a tough slog with physical defense and ball handling a problem for both sides. Neither team able to add anything further to the scoreboard heading into the break.

HALF-TIME: Parramatta Eels 6 – Penrith Panthers 12

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2nd Half

It was a less than ideal start to the second half for the Eels as Bryce Cartwright made an error deep in his own half. With the first play off the scrum, the Panthers pounced.

Nathan Cleary ran around the scrum to link up with Jerome Luai, who exploited the overlap and got the ball to Brian To’o for his second try.

After a tight contest in the next 10 minutes, eventually the pressure was too much for the Eels. The Panthers found space down the left edge and Matt Burton dummied to fool Haze Perham and scored to extend the lead.

The Eels compounded this try by putting the next kick-off out on the full. With the gifted field position, Api Koroisau scampered out of dummy-half and burrowed his way over the line for another try.

As the rain began to pour, the Panthers continued to pile on the points. Matt Burton made another break off a short ball from Viliame Kikau and put a kick in for Brian To’o, who won the race to complete his hat-trick of tries.

Not long after scoring his third try, To’o made break again and passed back inside to Nathan Cleary who raced away to score a long range try of his own.

Thankfully for the Eels, Nathan Cleary was given an early rest and the scoring stopped there. The Panthers ended up convincing 34-point winners heading into finals footy next week.

FULL-TIME: Parramatta Eels 6 – Penrith Panthers 40

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Injuries

Keegan Hipgrave – concussion

Scott Sorensen – wrist

Match Review Committee

to be advised

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