For the first time in 2021, the draws of all three junior representative grades have aligned to form a Super Saturday block of footy at New Era Stadium. The Eels will clash with the Steelers through the Harold Matthews, Tarsha Gale and SG Ball with plenty at stake in all three grades be consolidating a position inside the Top 8 or igniting a campaign.
The weather may be dark and heavily overcast but the young men and women of the Eels are looking to shine brightly today. TCT has got a good look at the Matts and Ball over the early rounds of competition but today is our first chance to see the Tarsha Gale in action. They sustained a heavy defeat at the hands of the Dragons last week and will be looking to bounce back in a big way and we look forward to seeing them take the field.
Coverage begins at 10:00AM with the Harold Matthews and will be followed by the Tarsha Gale at 12:00PM and finally the SG Ball at 2:00PM. You can also watch the official live stream of all the action at www.nswrl.com.au!
The Parramatta Eels are receiving the kickoff to open the game, they will be running towards the Cabramatta Leagues Club.
Sanders sends Aufago Mino into the fray to start the game. The Eels work from left to right and then kick early on the 4th and Sanders stabs a nice clearing kick in behind. Sanders leads the chase and he, alongside Myles Martin, hammer the fullback Trindall! Great start.
Not a huge amount of real estate up for grabs in reply for the Steelers but Patrick Spence makes a miscalculation in his kick return. He needed to head further infield but opted to flirt with the sideline and the kick chase bundles him into touch. Fortunately the Steelers can’t execute effectively in the next set and are pulled up for a forward pass as they attack down their right edge.
Josh Lealaiauloto takes the hit up from the scrum. A huge carry from Sam Tuivati careens the Eels over halfway! Terrific carry. Immediate shift to the left edge now as Saxon Pryke steams into the defensive line. Parramatta are primed for an attacking kick here and they go to the bomb but the kick is too heavy off the boot and is claimed on the full in-goals. 20m restart.
Oh, another error from the Steelers! A gift to the Eels here. Lafai t urns Guymer back inside down the right edge and again it is big Sam Tuivati with a huge carry. Playing with his hair on fire here. The Eels work to the left for two plays and the Steelers produce two cracking tackles on Pryke and Murray respectively. Seriously good reads and tackles there. That brings up the last and Parramatta turn to Sanders for the kick, he rolls it towards the posts and it catches a deflection off a defender. That doesn’t deter Terrence Lafai though as he flies through to touch it down for the opening try of the day!
Try scored by Terrence Lafai. Conversion successful by Ethan Sanders.
Eels lead 6-0
Sanders traps a difficult kick with his foot and links up with Mino. Another early kick for the Eels in this set after strong early gains from their forwards. Neat execution again. Good play to the game-plan. A strong set of defence forces the Steelers to work hard to get to halfway. They get the kick away under duress and it is charged down! Was that Pryke or Martin? Either way Pryke flies after that loose pill and dives on it to flip the field!
All Parra here as they pour on the pressure. They are set up for a big right edge play and they go that way! Just need hands here and Cooper Sinclair is over but the final pass is around his ankles! What a missed chance!
To their credit the boys in blue and gold don’t drop their heads and unleash a ferocious set of defence that forces another turn over! You love to see that!
They come a bit undone in the next set as they don’t really work towards an obvious goal. They turn the ball over on the last when Lafai scoops up a sloppy pass and runs it to the line. He offloads out the back but the ball is taken by a defender. The Steelers then pick up a penalty to take them out of their half and then play breaks down as both teams quickly turn the ball over in contract. It eventually comes back to the Steelers, who are on the attack.
What a great read by Guymer! He has played that perfectly in defence as he holds against an overlap and jams the ball carrier to force a turnover. A penalty goes the way of the Eels afterwards and Guymer follows up the tackle with the opening hit up of the next set.
Completion rates are starting to slip for the Eels though as Sam Tuivati has his first negative moment in an otherwise sensational start as he loses the ball on the second.
It puts the Steelers in prime position to answer the Lafai try as they sortie down their right early in the set. The Eels met them equally and force the visitors to look to the other edge where Guymer once more is a bastion, dragging down the fullback Sean Trindall. The grubber kick is taken in the front line and Parramatta set about working it off their goal line.
Thankfully they complete this set. An early offload from Sinclair to Talagi helps them fight out of their red zone and a great clearing kick from Sanders finds touch and sets play 25m off Illawarra’s goal line.
Jack Quine gives the Steelers some impetus early in their possession with a strong charge. The visitors play from right to left but Dom De Stradis makes a good tackle to bring up the last. The bomb is sent towards Josh Lealaiauloto but the bustling winger takes it cleanly with the kick chase swarming towards him.
Lafai hoofs it downfield, aiming for a 40/20, and barely misses his mark as it is marked out about 3m short. Good kick that was almost great right there.
Nice hit and stick from Declan Murray early in this set. The Steelers are driven back in his tackle and on the next play they lose the ball. Chance for the Eels now, their first possession in Illawarra’s half in a while. Martin surges up the middle and earns a penalty. The Eels look for a quick tap but the referee calls play back. Tuivati is involved early, first with a tip on and then with a carry to the right of the posts. Parramatta want to venture down their left edge and load up for a sweep to their fullback Spence but the Steelers adjust accordingly and jam him as he receives the ball to force a mistake.
Late penalty for the Steelers in the next set. That hurts Parramatta. They find touch 6m short of halfway and tap and go only to net a second penalty on the second tackle of this set. Huge passage of play incoming now as Illawarra go from a losing field position to attacking the Eels’ goal line.
Crunch! Declan Murray again. He buries the sweeper with a b one rattling hit. Illawarra continue to play down their right edge as their lock Hamish Stewart attacks the line. From there they go left but an errant pass brings the play to an end. Illawarra lob a cross-field bomb to their right and bat it back to their centre. He kicks ahead for himself but Murray is on hand to bat it dead. Line drop-out.
A booming drop out it is as well. That flies 50+ comfortably. Dom De Stradis lays the wood now and the ball bloops out as Guymer recovers it. Some great defence from the Eels, even if the offence has stalled somewhat.
Ayache jumps out of dummy half and then links up with Sanders who puts ball to boot. Trindall thinks about playing at it but ends up escorting it into touch.
Unfortunately the Eels concede another penalty now. They are keeping the Steelers in this arm wrestle as they bequeath so much free territory.
Illawarra switch things up this set with an early attacking kick. They roll it in behind Parramatta’s left edge and Spence taps it over the dead ball line as Trindall closes in.
Parra’s right edge is tested early on and they reply in the most devastating fashion possible! Cooper Sinclair is lurking between opposing centre and winger and he intercepts the looping pass! Cooper is a rangy character and he quickly hits top stride – there will be no catching him today as he surges down field for a 90m try against the run of play!
Try scored by Cooper Sinclair. Conversion successful by Ethan Sanders.
Eels lead 12-0
Parramatta Eels 12 lead the Illawarra Steelers 0
Parramatta are kicking off in the second half. Good opening set from the Steelers as they drive the ball over halfway. They test out Spence with a midfield bomb but not only is he up to the challenge but he beats the kick chase and links up with Sinclair for a riposte. That play takes the Eels back to halfway and from there they look to have opened Illawarra up through the guts with a series of short passes but the ref has called play back after seeing a forward pass in that exchange.
The Steelers nearly punch through into the backfield via their five-eighth Palu Tausala but he is pulled down after a good run. The Steelers attack down their left and net a 6-again when a pass is batted down by the Eels. Pressure mounting on the home team now. The Steelers play around ruck for a few tackles before kicking down their left. Lafai sticks a leg out and the ball pinballs off it back to the Illawarra centre James Walsh who recovers the ball and dives between Lafai and Spence to score.
Try scored by James Walsh. Conversion successful by Kynan Clough.
Illawarra trail 6-12
Lafai and Talagi combine for a booming hit from the kickoff. This game has featured strong defensive contact from both teams throughout the first 35 minutes. Illawarra pick up a penalty early in this set and tap and go. Momentum seems to have swung their way but as they breach the Eels’ half they juggle a pass and lose control into a defender. The Eels are seemingly off the hook but as I type that they drop the ball from the scrum win. Parramatta doing themselves no favours early in the second half.
Parramatta defend against some second phase play as the Illawarra halfback Clough attacks the line. He is followed by the loock Stewart who throws a dummy and goes himself. Thankfully the Eels don’t bite on the sleight-of-hand and on the next tackle Clough has a peek at the defensive line and drops a simple pass.
Gee that is a back-breaker. After the two teams trade sets, Parramatta have the ball on their 30m line following an error from the Steelers. Josh Lealaiauloto takes the opening carry only for the ball to squeeze out of his grasp as he hits the ground. The Steelers scoop it up courtesy of their try-scorer James Walsh and he slices through a seemingly stunned line of Eels to race 30m and score out wide. The Eels need to switch on here, they are killing themselves with these errors and penalties conceded.
Try scored by James Walsh. Conversion successful by Kynan Clough.
Illawarra lock the scores up at 12-all
Parramatta have to get themselves back into this contest now. They weather the next Illawarra possession and finally unleash a counterpunch of their own. First comes the strong ruckwork from Sinclair that takes the Eels into Illawarra’s half before a left-edge shift frees Declan Murray up. He knifes down field and slices between cover defenders looking sure to score only for a last ditch tackle from #12 I think that stops him literal centimetres from the line. What an effort from the defender there.
The Eels roll the ball in behind that unset defensive line and will regain possession as the Steelers can’t clean it up. Parramatta won’t want to squander this chance here.
Parra work right from the scrum win to Guymer who crashes into the line. Ayache works some ruck plays with his bigs in Tuivati and Martin. Some trademark plays there as they try and catch the markers out but the Steelers are awake to the danger. It means the Eels need to look elsewhere so they go to their left. The officials potentially miss a knock on in the transition of passes to Parra’s benefit I reckon as the ball finds its way out to Patrick Spence who hustles towards the goal line and rolls through the tackle to score. The Eels probably needed a slice of luck and I reckon they got one there.
Try scored by Patrick Spence. Conversion unsuccessful by Ethan Sanders.
Eels lead 16-12
Some excellent kicking from both sides brings the contest back to the state of an arm wrestle and it is Illawarra who gain ascendancy as they find touch 10m off Parramatta’s goal line.
The Eels reply with a solid set that drives the ball short of halfway before Sanders drives the ball long and low. Strong defence early in this set repels the Steelers and forces them to redirect play to their left. They can’t execute a great kick this time around which allows Lealaiauloto to steam onto the kick return. It sparks a strong set from the Eels as they work deep into Illawarra’s half. Sanders kicks late at the line and it takes a deflection from a defender. Hard to tell if that was played at by the hands of the Illawarra player there as it flicks back to Sanders who can’t regather it. The referee signals an Illawarra knock-on so it was deemed to be played at it. Correct call I would say, just a tough chance for the defender there.
Parramatta go to a bread and butter option early in this set as they look to Myles Martin on the goal line and the lock duly obliges as he crashes through the defence to score! Nothing fancy about that, the Eels just posted up one of their best against the opposition and he was too good.
Try scored by Myles Martin. Conversion successful by Ethan Sanders.
Eels lead 22-12
Oh what an effort! The Steelers kick short knowing they need to score twice in under 2 minutes. Charlie Guymer takes it cleanly near the sideline and then beats the initial chasers. He sees green in front of him and sets off downfield. The centre gets most of the way to the goal line before the chasers close in on him and he looks to thread a long pass to Martin back to his left. He nearly finds the mark but the ball falls to the shins of the rangy lock who taps it ahead on the fly. It squirts through the hands of a defender and Martin follows through to claim it and score! Holy Dooley!
Try scored by Myles Martin. Conversion successful by Ethan Sanders.
Eels lead 28-12
Another short kick off from the Steelers but the Eels claim it on the bounce and ruck it out to bring this one a close after that insane finish!
Parramatta Eels 28 defeat the Illawarra Steelers 12
The Eels field the ball to open this game as the conditions worsen out at Cabramatta. It is an inauspicious start for Parramatta though as they fail to complete their opening set of the game. Jada Toevai lost the ball there after a good dart out of dummy half.
Illawarra immediately swing down their right-edge in their first possession and Parramatta are pinged for a hair grab. They tap and go down their right making incisions from dummy half. The Steelers play expansive from there with numbers to their left. They just need hands as they find their left centre, Lily Rogan I think, she crashes through the cover defence and looks to have perhaps lost the ball before the line. The referee and touch judge convene and after a length discussion they award the try but there was plenty of doubt over that one.
Try scored by Lily Rogan. Conversion unsuccessful by Tiana Graham.
Illawarra lead 4-0
The visitors push forwards after points with a tidy set as they punch the ball through the middle and complete their set with a touchfinder 25m out from the Eels’ goal line. Ref misses an obvious flop there. Losalio Sita Payne features a number of times this set as the prop carts it forwards with gusto. A slice of luck for Parramatta on the last as an errant pass is kicked by the Steelers and the Eels recover. A penalty then follows and they tap and go to Payne. Payne’s running mate in the front row is up next and Ruby-Jean Kennard bulldozes her way over the goal line to equalise the score!
Try scored by Ruby-Jean Kennard. Conversion successful by Summah Terare.
Eels lead 6-4
Sloppy work from the girls on the kickoff but thankfully they don’t turn it over. Tahleisha Pugh slices down the left edge with an elegant carry. She backs up the ball on the next tackle as the Eels pile on the pressure down the left side. Parra opt to run it on the last and are met equally by the Steelers for a turnover.
The pendulum quickly swings back to to the home team though when the Steelers are penalised in possession for an incorrect play-the-ball. Payne rumbles to the line and is barely stopped short! The defensive numbers have been sucked in there and the Eels respond accordingly with a raid to their right. The fullback Ameena Kanj is nearly through before she is collared high for a penalty.
Tap restart for the Eels and the look to Losalio Payne once more. She has been a handful for the defence and she is too powerful on this occasion as she storms over under the posts!
Try scored by Losalio Sita Payne. Conversion successful by Summah Terare.
Eels lead 12-4
Great dart from Kanj! The fullback picks up very useful metres out of dummy half and backs it up later in the set with a nice pass to Pugh. The sharp centre is pinged for a sloppy play-the-ball though and the Steelers will have the ball after drinks.
Good footy from both teams through the next couple of sets. Adventurous attacking footy met with willing defence. The Eels gain the advantage eventually on the back of a ruck penalty and look to unleash Pugh once more. She gets away a nice offload away to take the Eels back to the posts where they find Summer Brown fresh off the bench. Play comes to the last where Toevai I think it is grubbers it as the Illawarra custodian Teagan Berry grasses the clean up attempt.
Scrum win sees the Eels use Ameena Kanj on the first. They spread it wide to Tamerah Leati on the second before loading up for a wide backline move the other way. Kanj finds Keller with the cutout but the sliding defence cuts her down. A turnover on the next tackle lets the Steelers off the hook.
Suddenly the field is flipped with a massive break by the winger McDonald for Illawarra. She flies downfield before she is met strongly by Kanj at the last line. Steelers pouring on the pressure now and they capitalise with a great carry by Checoby Murray as she muscles through the goal line defence of the Eels to score out wide.
Try scored by Checoby Murray. Conversion successful Tiana Graham.
Illawarra trail 10-12
Clever defensive work by Leati as she disarms the Steelers in a tackle! It puts the Eels back on the attack. The run plays through Brown and Kennard and then Pugh. Kataline Vave tries to pin the Steelers in-goals with a rolling kick but the weight is all wrong and it rolls dead by some margin.
The Steelers will come away with a 20m restart and that is quickly followed by a ruck penalty. The power of cheap field position is quickly shown as Illawarra go from defending their line to scoring in a flash. Sian Allen has been injected into the game off the Illawarra bench and she breaks a tackle in front of the posts and dives over to give the Steelerrs back the lead.
Try scored by Sian Allen. Conversion successful by Tiana Graham.
Illawarra lead 16-12
Parra will have the last chance before half time to strike and Summer Brown powers forwards and flicks a brilliant offload to Taimani Kolomaka. With 10sec left on the clock the Eels roll the ball too the in-goals off the boot of Vave but Berry is on the spot to tidy it up and bring an end to the first half.
Illawarra Steelers 16 lead the Parramatta Eels 12
Parramatta kick off the second half and defend solidly as the Steelers work their way near half way for the clearing kick but Kanj has a moment at the back as she drops the kick cold. Tough luck for one of the Eels’ best in the first half and now the home team will have to defend their line grimly.
It takes the Steelers just the one play to capitalise on the error though as they shift wide right to the lightning quick Annabel McDonald. She has too much pace for Leati and despite the desperate last-ditch effort of Kanj in cover, the Illawarra flyer crosses out wide.
Try scored by Annabel McDonald. Conversion unsuccessful by Tiana Graham.
Illawarra lead 20-12
Danger signs for the Eels now as Jordyn Preston busts through the middle for the Steelers. Flimsy defence will cost Parra dearly here as the Steelers advance on the Eels’ goal line. Thankfully the young ladies stand resolute in this set and Illawarra turn the ball over on the last as they try to force some second phase footy.
Brown has another impressive carry through the ruck but undoes all that good work with a loose PTB. The Steelers will have the opportunity to punish the Eels for a lapse in concentration when play resumes. Time is off for a downed Eel. It is Tamerah Leati who is receiving attention from the trainer. Looks like it might be her right knee or hamstring. She battles through the injury to take her place on the left wing and is immediately involved from the scrum as she wraps up McDonald.
Terare makes a good read and tackle in front of the posts and 20m out which sees the Steelers reverse play back to their right. Their dummy half Salma Nour is pulled up short of the line after an aggressive dart and they swarm Jordyn Preston on the last to effect the turnover on tackles. Encouraging to see the girls dig their heels in here.
There is another stoppage for an injured Eel, Demia Pritchard stuck on her belly there. Trainer attends her and she seems to be right so play resumes.
The Eels manage to complete a pretty poor set. Metres were hard to come by and they are rushed to their kick which sees the visitors regain possession right on half way. Going to be tough to hold on here but they have to if they want to keep a path to victory open today.
Despite some good early defence it is the shift to Illawarra’s right-edge that undoes the Eels once again. Even though the pass to McDonald skips off the ground she picks up it confidently in the greasy conditions and uses that explosive acceleration to beat Leati to the corner. Leati made it real close this time though as she rolls McDonald over before the line. The referee and touch judge come together to determine whether she grounded the ball before rolling into touch and the agree she got it down.
Try scored by Annabel McDonald. Conversion unsuccessful by Tiana Graham.
Illawarra lead 24-12
A string penalties carries the Steelers down field. The Eels are caught napping on the second infringement allowing for a quick tap. Despite defending that play the home team are all out of sorts down their right-edge on the second tackle and the Steelers are very cognizant of that fact. They play through the hands to their left and Lily Rogan has a saloon passage to the goal line for her second of the game.
Try scored by Lily Rogan. Conversion successful by Tiana Graham.
Illawarra lead 30-12
It is all Illawarra now as a surging Rose Lina Tau splits the Eels up the guts. The flying front-rower sums it up perfectly as she meets Kanj at the final line of defence and links up with her fullback in Teagan Berry who strides out the score in the left corner.
Try scored by Teagan Berry. Conversion successful by Tiana Graham.
Illawarra lead 36-12
Unfortunately the Eels are drowning under a crushing flow of possession from the Steelers here. They have gifted too many opportunities to their opposition today and Illawarra have barely missed a beat. Teagan Berry becomes the third Steeler to nab a double now as she cuts through the right-edge of the Eels. She could have just as easily passed to her right, the Eels were that short, but she dummies and goes and goes over without a hand been laid on her.
Try scored by Teagan Berry. Conversion successful by Tiana Graham.
Illawarra lead 42-12
It feels like Parramatta’s first possession in an aeon as they fight their way from their red-zone to halfway. Terare and Toevai have strong carries in that process before Payne earns a late penalty. She taps and goes herself and rumbles 18m downfield only to be brought down 1 metre short of the goal line. It comes back to her two plays later and she is well tackled and on the next play Ruby-Jean Kennary loses the ball as the pass bounces off her left thigh.
Parramatta have one last gasp to impact the scoreboard. They attack down their right but the kick from Demia Pritchard is far too heavy off the boot and rolls dead. Excuse me I was wrong, the clock is still running as the Steelers make an error from the 20m restart but so too do the Eels which is immediately followed by another error from the visitors. The siren rings out during that finals indiscretion and that will conclude this game.
Illawarra Steelers 42 defeat the Parramatta Eels 12
The Eels receive an immediate boost as Peter Taateo picks up a penalty early in the first set of the game. A strong touch finder puts them on the attack and they looked to have scored the first try of the game when the Steelers’ custodian Tyrell Sloan loses the ball in-goals cleaning up a grubber kick. He was met in a strong tackle and the ball squirted out which then saw Brock Parker plant it down. Sloan was off the ground and didn’t plant it from my vantage but the referee disagrees and calls for a drop out.
From there both teams turn it over quickly and it is Josh Chappell who opens play up with a gliding run and dummy! He knifes through down the right but is pulled down from behind. The Eels are rolling now though and some nice work from Vlado Jankovic at dummy half gets his captain Peter Taateo over! Vlado jumps out to the left and drags the ruck defenders with him before turning a bullocking Taateo inside. The lock forward to is too big and too strong from that range and he slams it down.
Try scored by Peter Taateo. Conversion successful by Josh Chappell.
Eels lead 6-0
Jankovic reels in the kick off and links up with Jontay-Junior Betham-Misa but the referee spies an incorrect PTB from the big bookend and the Steelers get a chance to hit back quickly.
They play from right to left before swinging back to the posts but the Eels number up correctly early in this set. A great read and jam from Jabriel Kalache looks to have forced an error but a late penalty is blown. The edge defenders were offside.
Scramble defence from Parramatta’s left edge now as the Steelers aggressively shift the ball. Wright and Fekitoa effect the tackle eventually and the visitors look to realign their attack. They build pressure on pressure now as they force a line drop out. Can the Eels continue to hold out?
Parramatta do indeed hold out but then apply the blowtorch to themselves with a cheap error just outside their red zone. Can’t afford those lapses as we saw in the Tarsha Gale earlier.
Thankfully the Steelers are struggling to complete their own sets, allowing the Eels to get off the hook.
A crazy sequence of play on Illawarra’s goal line results in the Eels eventually getting the ball back. The Steelers’ tapped a Parramatta bomb back on their goal-line, scooped it up and then nearly get bundled into touch only to offload then have the ball taken away. A penalty then comes to the Eels but in the next set Betham-Misa has the ball pop out of his grasp on the goal line. That will take us to drinks.
Strong defence from the Eels out of the break. Illawarra are barely out of their 20m before kicking. Sau tidies it up and has a nice kick return. He is followed by a damaging run from Kalache who nearly breaks though. Brock Parker carts it up to the uprights before Chappell plays short to Jock Brazel. Parramatta run it on the last as Chappell challenges the defensive line and hits Kamoe Fekitoa on a crash line but the visitors wrap him up and reclaim the ball.
Illawarra complete another tough set and heave the ball downfield. Sau is positioned to take the kick on the full and the Eels get underway once more. A testing carry from Jankovic nearly opens the Steelers up before he offloads to Betham-Misa. Maximus Tupou powers down the left edge and is brought down short of the line and on the last the Eels force a line drop out with a well placed grubber.
Larry Muagututia is on and takes the initial run. The Eels just bully the Steelers in the first two tackles this set and Vlado Jankovic spots a lack of markers 10m out. He scoops it up and attacks the goal line, overpowering the fullback in a tough tackle to score!
Try scored by Vlado Jankovic. Conversion successful by Josh Chappell.
Eels lead 12-0
Muagututia is met strongly from the kick return but earns a penalty when the tacklers carry on too long. Jankovic taps and goes and makes plenty of metres before the Eels look to second phase footy. The ball is offloaded to Chappell who then finds Kalache for another strong gain but Betham-Misa drops the ball in contact on the next tackle. Huge let-off for Illawarra there, they were barely holding on.
Illawarra produce their best set in some time to march downfield. No clean breaks but just really strong metreage in each tackle. They complete their set with a cheeky grubber that Junior Wright cleans up before the ball is reefed out. The referee determines that the Steelers lost in the strip attempt and Parramatta will get the ball.
The Eels get to their kick in return but produce a monstrous shank from their 40m mark that sails out of the full quite comfortably. Ends up only as a gift to the Steelers in terms of field position.
As you so often see in the juniors, the error proves brutally costly as a dangerous scurry from Junior Amone sees him pop an offload to Thomas Phillips in support and the big prop dives over between scrambling Parramatta defenders to get the Steelers on the board.
Try scored by Thomas Phillips. Conversion successful by Alexander Lobb.
Illawarra trails 6-12
Aggressive intent early in this set from the Steelers as they look to shift the ball early in the set. A booming clearing kick forces Sau to retrieve the ball from his own goal line and the Eels will have to work hard to clear the ball here.
Concentration lapses are creeping in as Parramatta turn it over in their red-zone once again but thankfully the Steelers reply in the same manner. Half-time is looming but a monstrous 40/20 from Josh Cappell will give the Eels the chance to improve their lead with just over a couple of minuties left in the first half! That was sweeeeeeet of the boot.
Muagututia opens up the set as he works to the posts. Bray turns Mafoa from right to centre. Jankovic tries put David Langi over in the same manner as Taateo earlier in the game but a great tackle barely stops him. Speaking of Taateo though! He is lined on on the next tackle and Jankovic hits him with a sly cut out pass from dummy half that puts the lock over untouched! An early double for the Eels’ talismanic captain.
Try scored by Peter Taateo. Conversion successful by Josh Chappell.
Eels lead 18-6
Powerful carry from Langi early in this set. Chappell looks to find Kalache with an early ball and the centre replies with a strong carry and offload. The Eels work their way into Illawarra’s half with a tackle to spare but the buzzer beats them and brings an end to the first stanza.
Parramatta Eels 18 lead the Illawarra Steelers 6
The Eels will kick off in the second half. An early penalty for Illawarra helps get them out of their red-zone after some aggressive defence had knocked them on their heels.
Amone nearly opens the Eels up again as he dummies and goes. He is tackled but drags in defenders in the process and good vision from their halfback sees the overlap to the right. A looping cutout pass puts Cooper Tunbridge outside of Freeman Forsythe and he touches the ball down in the corner. That puts the Steelers right back in the hunt.
Try scored by Cooper Tunbridge. Conversion successful by Alexander Lobb.
Illawarra trail 12-18
Ooph, Illawarra created space down their right and had the overlap to exploit but can’t find a clean pass just over half way. What a let off for Parramatta there!
The Eels reply with an explosive carry from Sau as he ducks and weaves down Parra’s right for a massive gain. Muagututia centres the ball and is dragged over the goal line so play comes back to the 10m mark. Langi steams onto the ball and bludgeons a defender before diving at the line. He goes agonisingly close to scoring but looks to have lost the ball trying to ground it and the Steelers come away with it. That would have been a heck of a try.
Illawarra pick up a penalty shy of half way and will head back on the attack with a chance to lock the scores up. A nice tackle from Fekitoa stops a left-edge attack but Illawarra are poised to attack to a stacked open side and Junior Amone is the dangerman again as he dances his way to the line before he is held up. Illawarra look to run it on the last and Parramatta stand resolute to force a turnover.
Tough set coming for the Eels though. They have to grind it out of their red-zone and get to their kick but unfortunately another sloppy PTB means Illawarra will regain possession. Mistakes are mounting here and the Eels really can’t afford any more of them.
The Steelers aren’t looking to build any pressure this set. They go wide right early on looking to post up centre vs centre. Morkos takes on Kalache and gets on his outside but the Eels centre recovers to drive his opposite into touch a metre short of the line.
Geez, another incomplete set for the Eels. This time they muster their way to the midway point of the field before Betham-Misa loses the ball in contact. The big man has struggled to hold onto the pill today.
Sure enough, Parra are made to pay for the repeat turnovers as the Steelers keep the ball alive on the last in the following set. I thought the final pass was forwards but the visitors are rewarded for a string of offloads that creat ethe overlap down Parra’s right side as Alexander Lobb scores in the corner.
Try scored by Alexander Lobb. Conversion successful by Alexander Lobb.
Illawarra lock the scores up at 18-all
Finally the Eels get a reprieve as Illawarra make a meal of their kick on the last. Amone skews it off the outside of his right boot and the ball torpedoes well into touch.
Oh no, after some dazzling footwork from Sau to create a 2-on-1 down the right the last pass to Wright is astray and a try goes begging. The Eels compound the matter by somehow turning the knock-on into a penalty – perhaps backchat? Thusly, the Steelers fly downfield once more by way of a touch finger.
The Steelers #8 Bryce Magnone pokes through the ruck but he is quickly dragged down before Illawarra raid down their left. Fekitoa reads the shift perfectly but is a tad overzealous in his tackle and is pinged for dropping his opposite past the horizontal. Play stops for drinks.
Parramatta survive the attack on their goal line as Jackson Shereb loses the ball trying to split Josh Cappell and Maximus Tupou. Betham-Misa lifts the team with a strong carry that sets up another booming 40/20 attempt from Chappell. It falls painfully short after getting marked on the 22m but Chappell was taken late so that same mark will see the Eels get the ball back. A high shot shortly after gives Parramatta the choice of taking the 2-points from in front but they think big and tap. It quickly comes undone though as Vlado Jankovic, one of the Eels’ best, drops the ball at dummy-half.
Well forget that, Parramatta will have the ball back immediately as a loose pass from the scrum win is dropped. Big right-edge shift from the Eels looks to line Sau up against the left-edge of the Dragons but they contain him well. Taateo flies into the line and looks for an offload but there isn’t any support. Bray switches play from left to right, linking up with Chappell but the five-eighth is crushed by the defence and loses the ball. Painful stuff from the boys in the second half as they struggle to complete their sets.
And now a penalty as Parramatta fail to get back onside. Another cracking touch finder from the Steelers puts them into the Eels’ half before a second penalty for a high shot gives the Steelers a similar quandry to Parramatta before – take the penalty conversion or play on? Like Parramatta they choose to play on. Yet another penalty is conceded by Parramatta and this time the visitors will look to claim the lead by way of a penalty goal.
Penalty conversion successful by Alexander Lobb.
Illawarra lead 20-18
Gee that was close. After trading sets it is the Eels to nearly land the next body blow as Josh Chappell spies the fullback deep behind the line. He chips ahead for himself and regathers beautifully before flinging an offload around the corner to Kalache. It looked backwards from my angle as Kalache scoops it up and fights his way over the line to ground the ball but the referee has called the offload forwards.
Illawarra can’t complete the next set, gifting the Eels the ball back as the look to take the lead back. Brock Parker nearly pokes over before a penalty comes as one of the markers slaps at Jankovic’s hands before he clears the ruck. It is called right in front of the posts and the Eels will look to bring the game back to a deadlock.
Penalty conversion successful by Josh Chappell.
Eels lock the scores up at 20-all
Solid set after points for Parramatta. They really needed that completion given the flow of the game.
Junior Wright buries someone on halfway in a bell ringer of a hit.
The Steelers position for a field goal on the last but the attempt never came close.
Oh man, Josh Chappell nearly blows this game open with an incredible run. He steps through a string of defenders and into open space before linking up with Tyrone Sau but the fullback has the ball knocked out his grasp from behind! The game was there to be won as well!
Illawarra have the last chance to win this torrid clash. They keep it simple as they drive the ball downfield. A surging carry with second left sets them up for a desperation shot but it is sprayed wide right and the Eels clean it up to bring an end to a see-sawing match.
Parramatta Eels 20 draw with the Illawarra Steelers 20