Parramatta Eels were left with a nasty taste in the mouth as they threw away an 18-8 lead with six minutes to play to lose 20-18 to St George Illawarra Dragons.
After Gareth Widdop had given the hosts an early two-point lead, Parramatta struck back. Tim Mannah made a great break up the middle, found Bevan French who was able to keep his feet and finish.
The Eels were completing well and extended their lead. Corey Norman’s well-timed pass found Nathan Brown who flooded through a gap.
It was going to take something special for the Dragons to get back into the game before half-time. They produced just that. Nene MacDonald, free on the left, chipped in-field for Widdop. The Englishman batted the ball back to Tim Lafai who found try-scorer Matt Dufty.
Parramatta restored their two-try advantage after the break. Clint Gutherson swung round to the short side late, threw a face-ball to Jarryd Hayne who dragged his marker across the try-line.
The Eels were digging in and managed to hold up Luciano Leilua to maintain their lead. They couldn’t stop Euan Aitken grounding Ben Hunt’s kick, however. The Dragons were now only four behind with six minutes to play.
The Eels were left shellshocked when Widdop’s kick was gathered by Dufty who dived in under the posts to win it.
Dragons: Dufty, MacDonald, Aitken, Lafai, Mann, Widdop, Hunt, Graham, McInnes, Vaughan, Host, Sims, de Belin; Interchanges: Latimore, Nightingale, Leilua, Lawrie
Tries: Dufty 2, Aitken; Goals: Widdop 4
Eels: Gutherston, French, M Jennings, Hayne, G Jennings, Norman, Moses, Alvaro, King, Vave, Niukore, Takairanig, Brown; Interchanges: Smith, Mannah, Gower, Terepo
Tries: French, Brown, Hayne; Goals: Gutherston 3