Parramatta defeated New Zealand Warriors 32-24 at ANZ Stadium on Friday night in an entertaining encounter in which they always held the upper hand despite suffering a series of injuries.
They went into the game without Tim Mannah (ribs) and Siosaia Vave (calf), so Daniel Alvaro started the game with David Gower and Will Smith joining the matchday 17.
Solomone Kata returned at centre for the Warriors, replacing Charnze Nicoll-Klockstad, while Jacob Lillyman replaces Bunty Afoa on the bench.
The Eels lost hooker Kaysa Pritchard to concussion after ten minutes and winger Josh Hoffman to a knee injury after half an hour. Bench forward David Gower broke his hand in the second half and centre Kirisome Auva’a also suffered a knee injury late in the game.
Despite their troubles, the Eels were able to hang on, with Clint Gutherson playing possibly the best game of his career, scoring the matchwinning try in the final minute to cap a fine performance.
The Eels scored after four minutes through centre Kirisome Auva’a’s and Josh Hoffman added a tenth-minute try.
Simon Mannering and Ken Maumalo levelled the scores with tries for the Warriors, but when a loose ball was scooped up by David Gower he linked with Semi Radradra who ran the length of the field to make it 18-12.
The Eels conceded an offside penalty inside their own half with a minute to go, handing the Warriors a golden chance to level up before the break but Steve Kearney’s men managed to bomb two separate tries in the set to go to the sheds down 18-12.
In the second half Gutherson landed a 51st-minute penalty goal to give the Eels an eight-point advantage before Tepai Moeroa added another try.
The Warriors pulled a try back through Ryan Hoffman o make it 26-18 with 15 minutes to play and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck then burst over to reduce the deficit to two points with eight minutes to go.
But as the clock ticked down the Warriors continued to make errors and Gutherson was able to seal the Eels’ victory with an 80th-minute try, much to the relief of the Parramatta supporters.
Eels: 1 Bevan French, 2 Semi Radradra, 3 Brad Takairangi, 4 Kirisome Auva’a, 5 Josh Hoffman, 6 Clint Gutherson, 7 Mitch Moses, 8 Suaia Matagi, 9 Kaysa Pritchard, 15 Daniel Alvaro, 11 Manu Ma’u, 12 Tepai Moeroa, 13 Nathan Brown; Interchange: 14 Beau Scott (c), 16 Kenny Edwards, 18 David Gower, 19 Will Smith
Warriors: 1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c), 2 David Fusitu’a, 3 Blake Ayshford, 4 Solomone Kata, 5 Ken Maumalo, 6 Kieran Foran, 7 Shaun Johnson, 8 James Gavet, 9 Issac Luke, 10 Ben Matulino, 11 Bodene Thompson, 12 Ryan Hoffman, 13 Simon Mannering; Interchange: 14 Nathaniel Roache, 15 Sam Lisone, 16 Albert Vete, 18 Jacob Lillyman.
Full coverage of all the weekend’s NRL matches can be found in Monday’s issue of League Express