Brendan Wood reviews the Parramatta Eels chaotic golden point victory over the Melbourne Storm, 28-24 in one of the games of the season so far.
Melbourne Storm 24
Tries: Brandon Smith (12), Nick Meaney (38, 44), Ryan Papenhuyzen (76)
Goals: Ryan Papenhuyzen (13, 39, 46, 77)
Parramatta Eels 28
Tries: Clint Gutherson (18), Waqa Blake (33), Tom Opacic (60), Ray Stone (72, 81)
Goals: Mitchell Moses (20, 35, 61, 73)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
Playing a rare afternoon game at AAMI Park, it was all the Storm in the early exchanges. Parramatta started slow, coughing up possession several times to gift the Storm plenty of opportunities. The home side went close, with Reimis Smith denied a try for a double movement, and Nick Meaney denied a try minutes later for an obstruction.
With the scores level, the Eels eventually wrestled back momentum due to some ill-discipline from the Storm. With their first attacking opportunity inside the Melbourne half, the Eels squandered possession as they tried to force one pass too many.
Given another chance, the Storm would not be denied a third time. A timely offload from Josh King close to the line saw the returning Brandon Smith burrow his way over under the posts to open the scoring.
After conceding first points, the response was swift and convincing from Parramatta. In the following five minutes, Dylan Brown took on the line and eventually broke through the Storm defence. He drew Papenhuyzen across and passed to Clint Gutherson supporting up the middle who finished off the try.
With scores back to level, the momentum continued to swing. Both sides traded close calls but the scramble defence from each team stood firm. In a tight contest, Dylan Brown rose to the occasion again.
Off the back of a six again call, Brown went to the line and threw a pinpoint cut-out pass to Waqa Blake, who crashed through Ryan Papenhuyzen to score in the corner.
Desperate to level the scores before the break, the Storm struck back. They put the ball through the hands to create an overlap, and Kenny Bromwich threw a crisp pass to put Nick Meaney over untouched.
HALF-TIME: Melbourne Storm 12 Parramatta Eels 12Embed from Getty Images
With both sides unable to be split at the break, Clint Gutherson got the Eels on the front foot when he returned a kick back 40 metres. They pushed the Storm back to their line but produced an error as they tried to force their way over.
With their first possession of the half, the Storm returned serve. Justin Olam broke the line and got the ball to Dean Ieremia who was tackled inside Parramatta territory. On the next play, Cameron Munster saw an opportunity with Gutherson out of position. He kicked early in the tackle count and Nick Meaney beat everyone to the loose ball to score.
What followed was a period of physical defence from both sides. Things heated up as Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Makahesi Makatoa went toe to toe with some physical shots. This took a toll on Bayley Simonsson who left the field with a HIA, causing a re-shuffle for the Eels.
Searching for the equaliser, Parramatta found a pivotal try. On the attack, Mitch Moses chipped a cross field kick to Tom Opacic who took a clean catch and got the ball down over the line.
With neither side willing to budge, the game reached its climax in the final 15 minutes. The first to blink were the Eels, when Waqa Blake spilt a bomb 20 out from his own line. Despite being gifted an opportunity to grab the lead, the Storm produced an uncharacteristic error attacking the line. Within minutes, Jerome Hughes made another uncharacteristic error, kicking the ball out on the full looking for a 40/20.
This time, the Eels made sure they punished the Storm. Mitch Moses put up a bomb and Ray Stone batted the ball back. The ball ricocheted off Nelson Asofa-Solomona’s head and Stone regathered to score a fortuitous try.
In typical Storm fashion, they refused to let the game die. Brandon Smith shrugged off a tackle and broke into the backfield. He found Munster in support who offloaded to Ryan Papenhuyzen to finish off a long range try.
The Storm tried to win the game off the next set, but a Papenhuyzen field goal attempt was charged down by Shaun Lane. Inside the final minutes the two sides couldn’t be separated as they headed to golden point tied at 24-24.
The mayhem continued in golden point, with Clint Gutherson making a scything run to get the Eels in good field position. With a clean look at field goal, Mitch Moses took a shot – which hit the post. The ball bounced back into the arms of Ray Stone, who stepped around Papenhuyzen to score his second try and the match winner for Parramatta in miraculous fashion.
FULL-TIME: Melbourne Storm 24 Parramatta Eels 28
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm), 2 pts – Dylan Brown (Parramatta Eels), 1 pt – Brandon Smith (Melbourne Storm)
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