Parramatta Eels NYC side
1. Anthony Layoun
2. Greg Leleisiuao
3. Dane Aukafolau
4. Noel Aukafolau
5. John Fonua
6. Dean Matterson (c)
7. Dylan Brown
8. Sean Keppie
9. Denzal Tonise (c)
10. Oregon Kaufusi
11. Dylan Clifford
12. Salesi Faingaa
13. Ray Stone
14. Reed Mahoney
15. Mitch Butfield
16. Frank Salu
17. Dom Murphy
18. Tangi Hokai
19. Emosi Alamoti
20. Tuimavave Afualo
21. Nick Okladnikov
22. Kamren Cryer
23. Austin Dias
As expected, the Eels have brought Reed Mahoney into the starting team. Reed will play at hooker at the expense of Sean Keppie who falls back to the bench. Denzal Tonise will transition to prop to complete the 3-way switch.
Damn. It is hard to believe that we are really here. 24 regulation season games and 2 finals games later the Parramatta Eels have arrived at the last ever Holden Cup Grand Final. Even after churning out four different blogs and dropping the Anthony Field podcast this week it all seems like a blur.
Luke Burt and his young charges have exceeded all expectations this season. They forged an identity built on hard-nosed defence and the ability to land devastating counter-punches and took that brand of footy all the way to the decider.
I really don’t think there is much more I can say at this point save one last salute to the coach and players. Best of luck today, fellas. Give them hell.
Follow all the action live from 1:35PM, be it right here on TCT or broadcast across free-to-air television on Channel 9.
My apologies for missing the opening points for Parramatta. The Eels were up 6-0 as I took my seat. Now as I start typing the Eels are have had a Manly error over turned into a penalty. Two in a row in fact.
It would seem that Dylan Brown was the genius behind the opening points! Great start.
Eels lead 6-0
Greg Leleisiuiao out of no where! He has broken free down the right sideline and strides 50m down field! Only the fullback to beat and he looks to put the in and away on the fullback but he is taken down is a pearler of a tackle. Left now for the Eels with overwhelming numbers. They spread and spread but the pass from Brown to Layoun hits the turf and Layoun drops it. No! But the Sea Eagles were offside! Penalty to the Eels and they immediately point ot the posts.
Penalty conversion successful by Dylan Brown.
Eels lead 8-0
Huge set after points! The Eels march downfield and nearly cross! They keep it alive after spreading it down their right edge to Leleisiuao on the last and he dances back infield. He links back up with Matterson and the Eels go to the left edge with Noel Aukafolau! He is nearly over but has to offload at the last second before Matterson ends up putting a neat grubber in!
Manly survive but the Eels swarm on them! Oh really! A penalty? The ref is having a pull of it here. Sea Eagles out of trouble from the ref again.
Oh hang on! Offload intercepted! The Eels are back on the attack! The rip into the Manly ruck defence with a ripper of a carry from Ray Stone and a penalty comes a play later. Tap and go! The Eels are over on a tackle later! Reed Mahoney to Denzal Tonise! The old firm connects as Reed turns Denzal inside under the posts and the co-captain crashes over! Go you good things!
Try scored by Denzal Tonise. Conversion successful by Dylan Brown.
Eels lead 14-0
Stone and Faingaa cart it up. Great run by Salesi as well. Huge carry from Reed Mahoney in their wake. Eels are pouring it on. To the left now where there is a dummy and go by Oregon Kaufusi. Great finish on the set as the Eels trap the Sea Eagles 2m off their line. Brilliant footy from the Eels to start this game.
Manly are going no where fast this set and end up completing their set 10m short of halfway with a neat clearing kick. That was a pressure reliever.
Parra work it down their right in reply before coming back the middle late in the count. Strong carry from Dylan Clifford there. Right once more before the kick. Mahoney skips out of dummy half and drills it down the right edge. It bounces off the legs of the Manly winger and he has to dive forwards onto the ball with the kick chase closing in.
Oooh. Early kick from Manly. Great one as well. Layoun fields it 3m inside his ingoals. The Eels work it through the ruck as their troops get back and Tonise beats a few defenders to go over halfway. Oh my, Salesi looks to put on a repeat of the set play from last week as he looks to hit Greg on an underneath angle but Leleisiuao is just pulled down. Error on the last unfortunately. Reed lost control of the ball trying to scoop it up.
Another completed set by Manly. They aren’t throwing much at us in general play but their kicking is nice. Greg racks up another bullocking run before Brown ices the set with a solid kick that takes a friendly Manly bounce. Colour me shocked. Another Manly penalty. It is the one thing besides their kicking game keeping them in it at the moment.
Good defence by our right edge as they call out their targets and shift laterally nicely. Manly are forced back to their left where Layoun makes a huge kick return! He skittles the first and second chasers and makes 10 extra metres. The Eels have coughed the ball up a couple of tackles later though. Cold drop by Dane Aukafolau as the Eels spread it to their right.
Big defensive set for Parra here. Manly work it right from the scrum win. They then switch back to their left but the Eels bring the line speed to match. Their fullback breaks a through tackles as he sorties back to the posts but he has lost the ball! Was that Clifford in the tackle there?
Leleisiuao earns a penalty on the second tackle of the following set. Amusing breakdown there as the Manly player looks around confused after reefing the ball out. Penalty Eels.
Working left to right here as they spread it but the Eels have dropped it and Manly scoop it up to race downfield in the confusion. Oh no, bad play from the Eels there. Dylan Brown has made a brilliant cover tackle to bring down the runner and Parra have incredibly rallied to save a try on the other side of the field! How has he done it! Held up over the line.
Don’t waste that effort Parra! Manly work back to the posts.and keep going left where they create an overlap. Shit! Leleisiuao caught flat out of the line there. Finally the Sea Eagles have ridden their luck to points. Need the Eels to rally before half time now, don’t let them get any closer.
Try scored by the Manly Sea Eagles. Conversion unsuccessful.
Manly trail 4-14
Manly punch it through the ruck but lose it on the third! Error from dummy half! Parra ball 25m off Manly’s line.
They go right with Salesi on the first. Back to the posts with Sean Keppie. Huge run! Sets them up there. Mahoney has a crack from dummy half but is pulled down before Matterson is taken. Mahoney turns Faingaa back inside to bring up the last and the Eels run it short but it look like the Eels have knocked on. Or has he!?
Video ref in action here. The reverse angle confirms a knock on. Damn it! He put the ball on the defender’s foot! 20m restart for the Sea Eagles. Huge let off for them.
They work over halfway on the 4th tackle before going down their right where Dylan Brown makes an excellent tackle. They shank the kick on the last but it takes an incredible bounce for Manly, forcing Leleisiuao to dive on the ball.
Simple set for Parra coming off their line before they heave the ball up. Manly let it bounce and it takes a very friendly turn for their fullback. Gee they have had some luck in the first half.
They work the ball down their left this set before trying to drill it down the left sideline. It takes a deflection of an Eels. Not played at but speaking of luck, the Sea Eagles pick up a penalty for the Eels playing a the ball from an offside position. Matterson cleaning up the deflection the culprit there.
Manly with a massive opportunity here. A second penalty follows mid count now. Manly with a huge penalty advantage today.
They tap and go. Try to play the ball way off the mark but the ref calls is surprisingly. Their fullback is rebuffed down our left edge and the Eels survive again as Layoun cleans up the grubber. Perfect positioning there!
Mahoney looks for a 40/20 but the angle isn’t there and a fractured kick chase is very nearly punished. Only a half break though as Faingaa makes a great cover tackle. Under a minute left here and A HUGE HIT from Sean Keppie! Bell ringer! Manly go to their left and roll the ball in behind. The Eels try to bat it dead miss it. Manly pour through and get the put down. SHIT.
Try scored by the Manly Sea Eagles. Conversion successful.
Manly trail 10-14
Parramatta Eels 14 lead Manly Sea Eagles 10
Parramatta kicking off in the second half.
Fonua gets us underway. A half break for Manly. Two in a row as Manly run it from dummy half. John Fonua takes a brilliant catch under pressure to defuse the attacking bomb.
Big runs from Salu and Faingaa before a poor pass from Mahoney. The set ends with a poor kick from Dean Matterson. Scratchy start from the Eels in the second half. Need more from Reed and Dean there.
Better defence from our right edge there but our left capitulates in reply. Simple hands and the Sea Eagles find a gap. Bad read from Noel Aukafolau it looks like. Didn’t trust Brown in cover his man and created the gap. Awful start to the second half for Parra.
Try scored by the Manly Sea Eagles. Conversion unsuccessful.
Manly lock the scores up at 14-all
Much better defensive set this time around. The Eels get their shoulders into the tackles. Chip and chase from Manly on the last but Matterson is awake and gets back to clean it up before the Eels earn a really dubious penalty. Didn’t look like there was anything in that tackle.
Nice run and offload from Leleisiuao to start the set. The Eels are right on the attack here as they are held up just short of the goal posts. Keppie with the run and he has lost the ball. Hands all over the ball there and the ref has somehow missed that. That is farcical.
Another solid defensive set from Parra but it all comes undone when Fonua spills the towering last tackle kick. He was all at sea under that one. He has gifted Manly a chance at the go-ahead score.
Strong defence from our right edge to start this set. We are short down our left but Manly make a meal of the attacking movement down that side. We survive. A kick back to our right and it results in a line drop out after Leleisiuao knocks it on in the contest for the ball.
Some missed tackles are creeping in here but the Eels are still holding on. And there is the error! They absorbed a ton of pressure in the last few minutes but have held on.
Useful gains from Leleisiuao and Dane Aukafolau to start this set. Left now for the Eels as they go deep into Manly’s half and a very tidy finish to the set traps the Sea Eagles on their goal line. We needed that sort of set.
A strong set in defence now. Manly are pinned to their 40m line and find Fonua on the full. He takes this one much easier this time around!. Good run from Layoun on the second. Greg on the third. Forward progress for the Eels now. Dane runs and offloads to Leleisiuao but Matterson kills an overlap on the second last tackle. Tonise has a crack on his own on the last and is pulled down short so the turnover on tackles is enforced 1m out.
The Eels are really starting to hit in defence. Keppie with another cracking shot. Manly are wilting under the intensity but again it is the Eels that make an unforced error FFS! Layoun has offloaded from his kick return and the ball is dropped cold 10m in Parra’s half. Killing ourselves with these errors.
Manly work the ball to our goal line with two tackles to spare. We hold out on the first attempt and comfortably survive the second as the Sea Eagles drop the cross field bomb over the sideline.
Are you kidding me? Another error. We are just inviting them in here. Come on boys!
Some sloppiness creeping into Manly’s play now. Passes hitting the ground.
We survive another set but it results in a line drop out with a contentious call involving a strip rather than a knock on in the act of an attempted score.
Huge hit from Stone and Mahoney. We need more of it to get us into this. Embarrassing refereeing there. The Eels have a player down right next to the ruck and there is no time off call. Manly get two tackles against a 12 man defensive front but they hold on somehow to force a turnover on tackles. Courageous stuff there.
Mitch Butfield the man that is down. Looking real shaky as well.
Fonua and Noel Aukafolau get us going to start this set. Leleisiuao comes infield and offlaods to Mahoney but he loses it in contact. COME ON BOYS! And now the fracas is on with niggle boiling over.
Complete a set boys!
Half break from Manly from the scrum win. Our left edge the guilty side there. Oh wow. Game saving cover tackle from Oregon Kaufusi! Our line is usted and Layoun beaten but he makes the tackle somehow!
And the Eels pour the pressure on to make to tackle on the last! Here we go boys.
We get downfield with some impetus for once. Need a kick now. To our right, forget the kick! We don’t need any kicks where we are going – TO THE TRY LINE BABY! We work it through the hands and create the overlap to get Leleisiuao over! Try time baby! Back in front! Great work from Layoun!
Try scored by Greg Leleisiuao. Conversion unsuccessful by Dylan Brown.
Eels lead 18-14
Eels lead 68min gone
Need a big set here. Get to their kick please! Simple no nonsense carries before there is an outside inside play to Layoun. Mahoney zips out of dummy half on the last and finally finds range from the boot to ice play 10m off Manly’s line. THAT was a finish to a set!
Oooh, Dane beaten badly en route to a half break there. Cover defence saves the day. Decent set from Manly but the Eels hold on and Layoun takes their kick on the first bounce. Dylan Brown rucks it out for his forwards. Leleisiuao and Faingaa with the later efforts up the middle. All dummy half work from this set before Mahoney’s kick is taken in the front line. Gee he has struggled with that today. Big chunk gain for Manly as a result.
Another missed tackle from Dane now but Faingaa is there to save the day for him. Oh dear, it looks like the Manly player is staying down to milk a penalty but there was nothing in that. That sets up the last tackle and Fonua swallows up the kick with ease.
Some hot stepping from Leleisiuao before Brown puts in an excellent kick to trap Manly inside their 10m! Great touch on that grubber.
Manly throwing caution to the wing with reckless offloads that are sticking. Need to hold on for that much longer. Oh wow, that is a real Barry Crocker. The Sea Eagles get lost on the last tackle and heave it cross field right across their own attacking line. That is a scrum for Parramatta, 20m off their own line.
Noel Aukafolau starts the set off nicely, bumping away from defenders. The Eels get to their kick and send up a defensive bomb if you would but dear oh dear there is a penalty for taking the defender out in the air. That is huge. 3min to play now.
Manly attack our left edge with numbers but we read it well. Back to the ruck and then to their left. A late offload creates a chance for Manly and they break our right edge with numbers. They try to chip Layoun but he gets a hand to it and knocks it down! Pressure still on though. Manly scrum 10m off our line with 2min to play.
A huge forward pass from the first tackle. Missed by the officials of course. Great hustle early in this goal line stand. Working from the inside with plenty of effort. AND ANOTHER FORWARD PASS! It is missed and the Sea Eagles cross for the match winner. Damn it.
Try scored by Manly Sea Eagles. Conversion successful.
Manly Sea Eagles 20 DEF Parramatta Eels 18