Parramatta defeated Penrith 18-12 at ANZ Stadium on Saturday afternoon in the battle of Sydney’s west, with halfback Corey Norman the star of the show, particularly after the Eels lost stand-off Brad Takairangi to injury just before half-time.
Norman scored two tries and dominated the game with all aspects of his play as the Eels ran up an 18-0 lead after 45 minutes.
But in the final 30 minutes the Panthers came back into the game and could have snatched an unlikely victory.
From the opening kick-off Bryce Cartwright and James Tamou allowed the ball to roll over the dead-ball line for a drop-out, and soon afterwards Cartwright misjudged a Brad Takairangi grubber into the in-goal, allowing Norman to score the Eels’ first try before Penrith had touched the ball.
Clint Gutherson converted and added a penalty goal and then Michael Jennings scored but the try was disallowed because of a knock-on by Gutherson.
But then a superb Norman cross-field kick was caught beautifully by Semi Radradra to score and take the Eels to a 12 points lead by half-time.
Early in the second half Kaysa Pritchard fed the supporting Gutherson, whose grubber kick was gathered by Norman for his second try of the game.
But then the Eels took their foot off the gas, and Peta Hiku gave Penrith some hope when he scored in the corner.
The Panthers continued to press, but couldn’t score again until Corey Harawira-Naera touched down to make it 18-12 with just over two minutes to play. Nathan Cleary converted both Penrith tries.
Eels: 1 Clint Gutherson, 2 Semi Radradra, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Kirisome Auva’a, 5 Josh Hoffman, 6 Brad Takairangi, 7 Corey Norman, 8 Suaia Matagi, 9 Kaysa Pritchard, 10 Tim Mannah (c), 11 Manu Ma’u, 12 Tepai Moeroa, 13 Nathan Brown; Interchange: 14 Beau Scott (c), 15 Daniel Alvaro, 16 Kenny Edwards, 17 Siosaia Vave.
Panthers: 1 Matt Moylan (c), 2 Waqa Blake, 3 Dean Whare, 14 Peta Hiku, 5 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 21 Bryce Cartwright, 7 Nathan Cleary, 8 James Tamou, 9 Peter Wallace, 10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 18 Corey Harawira-Naera, 12 Isaah Yeo, 13 Trent Merrin; Interchange: 4 Tyrone Peachey, 15 Leilani Latu, 16 Tim Browne, 17 Moses Leota.
A full review of all the weekend’s NRL action and a preview of Tuesday’s Anzac Day matches will feature in Monday’s edition of League Express