The Parramatta Eels enter the first week of the NSW Cup finals locked in a sudden death battle with the Canterbury Bulldogs. Both teams travel West to St Marys today for the clash with the Bulldogs having beaten the Blue & Gold narrowly in their two prior encounters this season. Jake Arthur and Nathan Brown provided a massive double boost to Jordan Rankin’s best seventeen and the Eels will need every ounce of their talent and experience to win the day.
This game will be livestreamed by the NSWRL and you can find a link just below to watch it!
Kickoff is at 5:15PM.
NSW Cup Team List
1. Jordan Rankin (c)
2. Zac Cini
3. Hayze Perham
4. Bailey Simonsson
5. Sean Russell
6. Jack A. Williams
19. Jake Arthur
8. Ofahiki Ogden
9. Mitch Rein
10. Ky Rodwell
11. Elie El-Zakhem
12. Toni Mataele
13. Bryce Cartwright
7. Brendan Hands
15. Tevita Taumoepenu
16. Dan Keir
18. Nathan Brown
The Eels will get the chance to set the tone early on with their defence as they kick off. Sean Russell sends the ball to the left and the Bulldogs begin to work the ball out of their half. They complete the set on halfway with a hurried kick as Mitch Rein bursts out of marker and Rankin easily claims the ball. Rapid first set for the Eels as a penalty comes to them on the second. They find touch on the midway point of the field and get to work.
Arthur turns Cartwright inside before Rodwell surges onto the ball on the next tackle. Ogden is up next before a right shift from Cartwright to El Zakhem. Arthur leans left on the last but steps to his right and kicks for Jack Williams! Great vision and it forces a line drop out!
Russell swallows up the short drop out attempt to put the Eels right on the front door. Cartwright and Rodwell gets touches in the next two tackles but the ball squirts out of Ky’s grip. Referee pauses before eventually ruling it was lost. Hard to tell there but either way a big chance is squandered.
Lumelume is wrapped up by Russell and Perham on the first. Canterbury work from left to right from there as Docker-Clay scoops up a risky offload and pinches a chunk of bonus metres. Back to the left to bring up the last now and they have marched deep down field but a poor bomb is marked in goals by Rankin.
Simonsson, Cini and Rein make chunk gains through the middle and are joined by their captain. Left as Cartwright uses Ogden on a crash line before El-Zakhem is turned inside by Williams. Williams gets last usage of the ball on the next tackle and rolls it along the ground but Creedence Toia is awake to the threat and gathers the ball in the field of play.
Tough sets from both sides in the early exchanges. Game is settling into a real arm wrestle as a result.
Important tackle by Perham! It prevents a line break down the right edge before a stoppage in play occurs for a downed Bulldogs. Looks like it is Bailey Biondi-Odo who is clutching his knee. He seems to think an Eel twisted in the tackle but neither the main official nor the touch judge have seen anything untoward. He is charioted off by trainers, hopefully precautionary of course.
Play resumes 9-minutes into the game as the Dogs send another bomb towards Rankin. The captain-coach takes it easily to start Parramatta’s set. El-Zakhem, Perham and Ogden roll up the sleeves before Cartwright, erm, carts the ball over halfway. Williams completes the set with a bomb towards Toia.
Good shot from Ogden! Strong contact just on halfway. Rankin tidies up another Bulldog bomb which then sees Cini and Simonsson power through the ruck. Nice little dart from Rein! He is barely contained by scrambling markers. Rodwell brings up the last as Arthur drops a bomb about 3m out from the goal line. Good set.
Ooooh. Nearly an unforced error from Chris Patolo as he juggles a pass from his hooker and barely reels it in. Russell is the recipient of the last tackle kick this time around and he comes back two tackles later with a really good run up the guts. Left to Mataele who steams into the line and has the ball ripped from his grasp! But it was after the held call! Wow, fortunate time for the Eels there although it was a clear held call from the referee to be fair.
Ogden takes the first run from the fresh set before an early right edge shift puts Russell into a sliver of space. He is quickly brought down by the sliding defence and a couple of tackles later the Bulldogs win the ball back as they scoop up a deflected grubber kick from Williams. They then pick up a piggy back penalty as over eager Parramatta defenders are pinged for jumping early.
Big set here for the Eels as Canterbury get their best territory of the half. They kick early down Parramatta’s left edge which sees both Cini and Lumelume make complete meals of the bouncing ball. In their defence it is clearly slippery conditions! Rankin gets the last touch so it is a line drop out. From there the Eels go short and a double knock from the contest sees Parramatta with the loosehead and feed!
Arthur slips the ball into the scrum as Rodwell gets his number called on tackle one. Cheap, cheap territory for the Blue & Gold as he wins a penalty! Rankin heaves the ball into Canterbury’s side of halfway and we are underway again. Good charge from Ogden! Right to Williams who steps off his right back into the ruck. Left to Arthur who brings Rodwell under and he will strongly met. Perham can’t beat his opposite down the right and we go left on the last. It is all a bit discombobulated and it ends up with Cartwright who shows some razzamatazz before kicking ahead but there isn’t much of a chase.
Canterbury reply strongly, well at least until their kick which is a shocker and dived on by Jake Arthur. Certainly makes Cartwright’s kick prior look a fair bet better!
Simple set for Parra in return as they go through the middle and bomb Lumelume who takes it with out a problem.
Zack Dockar-Clay breaks the deadlock as he dances through the left edge of the Eels. Really out of nowhere as the Eels just get it all wrong. Mataele with the initial miss and the inside cover defence never arrived. Sloppy to two accounts there. Dockar-Clay finds Toia at the last line and the Bulldogs have first points.
Try scored by Creedence Toia. Conversion successful by Brandon Wakeham.
Bulldogs lead 6-0
Russell with the second kickoff of the game thus far. To the left once more as again the Bulldogs nearly cough up a pass from dummy half. Canterbury muster their forwards to halfway before bombing to Rankin in a tidy set after points. Tough work for the Eels early in this set before Cini and Mataele get some momentum down the left edge.
Cartwright brings up the last and Williams drives a kick centrefield that Toia claims after a couple of bounces. The Bulldogs ruck it out with leaning to their right edge and cause trouble down that side a few tackles later with some short passes. Parramatta’s line doesn’t break but it does bend and it allows the Bulldogs to drive a low kick into our in-goals and force a drop out as Russell is brought down by the chasers.
The Eels go short again but this time it is ruled to have not gone 10m. The Eels are miffed across their entire left edge and question both officials involved but the Bulldogs have the penalty and elect to take the essentially free two points from in front.
Penalty conversion successful by Brandon Wakeham.
Bulldogs lead 8-0
Oh goodness that is poor. Jackson Topine just slices through some butter soft left edge defence before stumbling into Rankin. Jack Williams does very well to tidy up the attacking kick and get back into the field of play to avert a disaster. Huge period coming up for the Eels here, they are the ones that blinked first and now have to wrest ascendancy back from the Bulldogs.
Thankfully the Bulldogs oblige by kicking the ball dead for a 20m restart. Huge reprieve.
Rein provides a good run from dummy half to take Parramatta out of their half but two tackles later the referee allows a very generous interpretation of momentum in the tackle which sees Bailey Simonsson eventually bundled into touch.
Parra caught short from the scrum as Lumelume bursts down the left sideline. He is cutdown short of the goal line but it is all Canterbury right now. They swing right from there and find Okunbor but he is dragged down by sliding defenders before they finally drop the ball on the transfer back to their left. Manic stuff and the Eels barely manage to hold on. It is however looking grim as the Bulldogs strengthen their grip on the game.
Parramatta continue to play vanilla footy as the Bulldogs make another line break care of their right edge. This one comes off a pretty clear forward pass and justice is quickly served when their last pass misses the mark and trickles into touch.
Finally a little bit of spark! Arthur links up with Williams who pulls up and drives a low kick to Russell’s wing. Toia arrives at the ball first but Russell pushes him into touch.
El-Zakhem trucks the ball right to the goal line but has his play-the-ball disrupted by a defender for a penalty. He gets another charge in the new set before we go left to Taumoepenu. Right to Williams who plays early to Perham who is tackled by Casey. The ball pops out and the referee signals it is lost before the Bulldogs add some extra curricular grubbiness to the sequence. The Eels just can not find top gear here as they get bogged down in the heavy conditions.
Canterbury gets one last set before oranges but nothing is doing despite a couple of offloads. They drive the ball dead from their side of halfway as the siren rings out and that brings the opening half to a close and gee did the Eels desperately need the break. Time for them to figure something – anything – out and quickly. 8-0 down is a very manageable scoreline when all is said and done but the Eels need to tighten up their defence with their left edge in particular leaking too much while offensively they need to mix things up as the Bulldogs are eating up the vanilla looks.
Canterbury Bulldogs 8 lead the Parramatta Eels 0
Parramatta with the opening possession. They work from right to left and Nathan Brown takes them with 8m of halfway. Rankin slips over setting up the last and Arthur sends up a nasty bomb on the last that is very well taken by Lumelume.
Good energy from Simonsson in the Eels’ second set of the half. He rips into the line for a cracking carry and is followed up by Brown. The Dogs let the kick from Williams bounce and are very lucky it takes a kind turn to Toia who snags it before he is engulfed immediately by the chasers.
A good defensive set forces the Dogs to kick from their half and Rankin takes the ball on the full but he is upended by a good tackle. Not much cooking for the Eels this set as they opt for another clearing kick.
Canterbury’s offloads are really hurting the Eels in this game. First up contact needs to be sharper.
Ah, luck can be a cruel mistress. The Bulldogs are the beneficiaries of a lottery deflection as Wakeham’s grubber kick pops back in front of him as he toes it past Rankin for the second try of the game. I don’t think anyone on the field really knows if that caught a hand or was clean since it ping-ponged rapidly a couple of times but the referee awards it and the Bulldogs have a commanding lead now.
Try scored by Brandon Wakeham. Conversion successful by Brandon Wakeham.
Bulldogs lead 14-0
Parramatta pick up a penalty in their next possession and they desperately need to make the most of it. Hands takes on the right edge short side and finds El-Zakhem for good metres. He is back at it again with an inside pass to Cartwright that nearly yields points. It looks like the Eels finally crack the Bulldogs as Rankins throws a cutout pass to Russell who then muscles his way over in the corner but the touchy has ruled he was out first. Gee that is a backbreaker and a real 50/50 call that the Eels had to have.
A string of penalties to the Bulldogs puts them on the attack with a full suite of tackles at their disposal on Parramatta’s goal line. They play from left to right as the Eels hold on grimly through the early tackles. Morrin nearly backs his way over but Parramatta do hold on and trap the subsequent grubber kick in the front line. Naturally they immediately turn it back over to pile the pressure onto their own shoulders.
The Bulldogs kindly do the same in reply though and the Eels escape a dire situation. Only 26min left on the clock now though and they need to get to work right now.
Perham delivers a good run down the right edge before Brown uses Ogden with a short pass up the guts. Arthur completes the set with a clearing kick but it is comfortably taken by Toia. Lumelume is allowed to walk off the mark after his ruck work which sets the Dogs up for a left edge shift where they use Morrin.
Offside chasers on the last tackle gifts Parramatta a touch finder which Rankin miscues. He went for it all but it bounces inside the field of play and takes a mean and honestly vindictive bounce back infield. Parramatta then concede a ruck penalty which bizarrely leads to Rankin receiving an official warning for the looming use of the sin bin. The Eels despite their issues today have honestly been fairly disciplined and certainly haven’t given away a string of cynical penalties. Very odd call from the referee.
Another big goal line stand incoming and someway, somehow they hold on. Well, Canterbury aided them by throwing next to nothing at their defensive line but you take what you can get in these scenarios.
And there you go, feeling the pinch Williams looks to boom a 40/20 but it skews off the right of his boot and sails into touch on the full. Might just be the nail in the coffin there as the Bulldogs set up for a full on tilt at the Eels’ goal line.
Well scratch that, Parramatta hold on again. This time it is Cini who saves the day with an excellent leap and catch against Okunbor. He is lightly shaken up by the fall to the ground and time is blown off very briefly until he regains his footing.
The referee finally penalises a Canterbury defensive line that has been jumping early aggressively for a number of sets but it is hard to see it making a difference at this stages. Under 18-minutes on the clock and zero momentum. Williams is collared high and the referee almost begrudgingly awards the penalty after a long hesitation.
Ogden gets the tap and go. Left to Arthur who plays out the back to Rankin who sends Simonsson into the line. Right to Brown to Cartwright to Arthur who lets El-Zakhem tee off. Finally some energy! Cartwright back to the posts before wide left to Cini but despite it all the Dogs hold on as Dockar-Clay tidies up the grubber kick to the posts. Our best set of the game but it still wasn’t enough and almost certainly too late.
Set for set stuff now as the clock continues to wind. Rodwell and Perham dig deep for big runs to put the Eels on the front foot and it finally yields points. Cartwright in the point guard on the last and he shows the kick but plays to Arthur who rifles a pass to Simonsson who delivers a perfect tip on to Cini. The powerful winger has three cover defenders to contend with but he steps off his left and burrows over for the breakthrough.
Try scored by Zac Cini. Conversion successful by Jordan Rankin.
Eels trail 6-14
What a comedy of errors. Okunbor slips over as he kicks off and screws a messy restart away. The Eels let it bounce and it breaks wickedly to the sideline forcing them to bat it back desperately but said bat back bounces into touch.
Sure enough they turn it into the game-winning points as Creedence Toia teases the Parramatta right edge and slips a sensational offload to Lumelume for the deal sealing try.
Try scored by Isaac Lumelume. Conversion unsuccessful by Brandon Wakeham.
Bulldogs lead 18-6
Parramatta have to go short here and they do. Alas there is a rule about tackling players in the air and they don’t adhere to it as Okunbor isn’t allowed to hit the deck before contact. Easy penalty for the referee there.
No tack on points for the Dogs from that resultant set but likewise the Eels can’t impact the scoreboard in reply. Indeed they look to have put up the white flag as they send a clearing kick down field rather than firing a shot.
Bailey Simonsson puts on some footwork down the left to open up a glimmer of hope for a late try but Cini drops his pass and the Bulldogs will be able to ruck it out for the win from here. Hugely dissapointing performance from the Eels today as they produced one of their worst efforts of all year in the most important game. It brings a close to the season for our NSW Cup but several players still figure to be part of the race for the NRL premiership.
Canterbury Bulldogs 18 defeat the Parramatta Eels 6