An 11am kick off for today’s Jersey Flegg clash at Ringrose Park rekindled memories of the old 3 grades of footy at Cumberland Oval. The Under 20s was one game in a four grades day at Wenty, with Sydney Shield, Ron Massey Cup and ISP filling a big program of NSWRL matches. Unfortunately, the scheduling also sees the Eels playing at ANZ Stadium today, so it’s not possible to provide coverage of the ISP game.
The Eels came into this Round 8 encounter with only three wins to their credit after a couple of close losses in recent weeks. The Wests Tigers were looking to climb off the bottom of the ladder.
A strong start to the match reaped early rewards for Parramatta when a shift to the left had Aukafolau putting Afu into the corner for the try. The conversion was unsuccessful, but the Eels had a 4 nil lead after 6 minutes.
Only a few minutes later the Eels were again on the attack in the Tigers quarter. A quick ball was delivered to Jaeman Salmon on the last, and the classy five eighth feigned to kick, then sliced through to score a fine individual try. The kick was again unsuccessful as the Eels moved to an 8 nil lead.
The pressure was telling on the Tigers defence. The Eels marched downfield and the grubber kick on the last had the Wests fullback fumbling the ball straight back to the kick chase, with Oregon Kaufusi reaping the spoils for a four pointer close to the posts. The conversion took the lead out to 14 nil with 17 minutes left on the clock in the first half.
Unfortunately for the Eels a succession of errors and penalties invited the Tigers back into the contest. Parra’s try line defence finally succumbed to a Tigers shift to the right in what was a soft try. The kick was unsuccessful and the scoreboard now read 14 to 4 with 8 minutes left in the half.
The Parramatta defence toughened up against a Tigers attack which was gaining momentum. After holding out a repeat set, the Eels were given prime attacking territory just before half time. Unfortunately, errors became the feature of the last few minutes of the opening stanza and the score remained unchanged as the teams hit the sheds.
Five minutes into the second half a confident Eels added a further 6 points to their tally following a try out wide by Ethan Parry, which was duly converted by new kicker, Reed Mahoney.
The score stalled at 20 to 4 for the next 15 minutes as the play ebbed and flowed without either team gaining a territorial ascendancy.
The stalemate was ultimately broken by a barging try to Sean Keppie. His four pointer had come on the back of a strong surge by Salmon, who had been put into a gap from a fine Brown offload. “Cash” Mahoney’s conversion took the score to a commanding 26 to 4 lead.
The last 13 minutes saw two tries disallowed to the Eels and two tries scored by the Tigers, giving a final score line of 26 to 14.
This was a solid result for an Eels team capable of much better execution. Best on the field were Mahoney, Tupou and Brown, with Kaufusi and Salmon also putting their hands up for man of the match honours.
The Eels now take a 4/4 record into next week’s bye.