The rain poured continuously at Bankwest Stadium on Thursday night, but it couldn’t prevent the Parramatta Eels and Melbourne Storm producing a magnificent contest that ended with the Eels grabbing victory with a late try by Maika Sivo – his second of the night – with only three minutes remaining to secure a 16-12 win – their second in the first two rounds of this year’s competition.
The game was tightly contested throughout with remarkably few errors, given the sodden conditions, but the deciding factor was Sivo’s dominance in the air against his opposite number George Jennings, who was a Parramatta team-mate last season.
Sivo scored the first try of the match on 21 minutes, jumping to catch a high kick from Dylan Brown in the face of Jennings, with Mitchell Moses adding a touchline conversion.
The Storm applied relentless pressure in a first half played mainly in the Eels’ half, but it looked as though the Parramatta defence, led heroically by fullback Clint Gutherson, would hold out until new recruit Reimis Smith was able to step inside the defence three minutes before the break, with Ryan Papenhuyzen adding the goal to make it 6-6 at the break.
For the first 25 minutes of the second half there was no score, as golden point appeared to be looming.
But the deadlock was broken on 67 minutes when Junior Paulo was fed by dummy-half Reed Mahoney and he bullocked his way over the line, with Mitchell’s conversion giving the Eels a six-point lead.
But the Storm responded seven minutes later when a Papenhuyzen kick ricocheted off Brown’s leg near the Parramatta line, allowing Justin Olam to pick up the ball and touch down for Papenhuyzen’s goal to again level the scores.
But with just three minutes remaining it was Sivo’s turn to shine again, as he plucked a massive bomb from Moses out of the air, again in the face of Jennings, and then shrugged off an attempted tackle from Reimis Smith to touch down. Moses couldn’t add the conversion, but that didn’t matter and the Eels came away with the points.