NRL 2 years ago

Match Report: Parramatta Eels vs Canberra Raiders

  • Match Report: Parramatta Eels vs Canberra Raiders
  • Match Report: Parramatta Eels vs Canberra Raiders
  • Match Report: Parramatta Eels vs Canberra Raiders
  • Match Report: Parramatta Eels vs Canberra Raiders

It was a Father's Day where majority of the fathers heading off to Sydney's West were expecting an enjoyable afternoon at the footy, capped off with a tenth victory off the season for the Parramatta Eels. However for the second year running, the Green Machine were standing in the way to spoil the party. The final round of 2014 resulted in heartache for the Eels and their supporters as they were prevented from claiming a spot in the finals series following a 33-20 loss in the nation's capital. It would end up being the final game of NRL-come-NFL star Jarryd Hayne in the Blue and Gold who ironically was the story of the early hours of Sunday morning following his acceptance into the 53 man squad of the San Francisco 49ers in the American National Football League. Eels fans arrived at the match expecting revenge, especially in the absence of star Canberra pivot, Blake Austin. 

Possibly the most popular name on fans' lips throughout the day was Fijian winger, Semi Radradra, who was sitting on 22 tries from only 17 matches prior to kick-off, just a double away from breaking the 33 year record held by Steve Ella for most tries in a season (23) for the Eels. A day intended to produce celebration started poorly for the Eels as Canberra centre Brenko Lee scored a relatively simple try with a dart and dive from dummy half within the first five minutes. It was a while before the Eels seriously looked threatening in attack, with several Eels fans encouraging ball runners to take the ball to Semi's left wing. A cleverly constructed move by Eels fullback Reece Robinson resulted in Radradra opening the Eels' account, albeit with a questionable grounding, and equalling the Zip Zip man's record. Both teams headed to the sheds levelled at 6 apiece.

Eight minutes into the second half and Radradra was given the green light again despite another suspicious grounding, receiving a standing ovation by many in honour of his record-breaking achievement. However, the leading point scorer in the league, Jarrod Croker quickly quashed early celebrations with a quick-fire double between the 54th and 61st minutes that silenced the Blue and Gold faithful. Big boppers Junior Paulo and Daniel Alvaro restored hope for an Eels win with tries resulting from powering runs to the try-line to gain a 22-18 lead with six minutes remaining. Alvaro's try had occurred following the sin binning of Raiders fullback, Sisa Waqa for a professional foul in an effort to prevent an Eels four-pointer following a raid down the left side between Eels centre Ryan Morgan and Radradra. With just a minute or so remaining, a Luke Kelly penalty goal extended Parramatta's lead to a six point buffer before late drama ensued. An attempt to retrieve the ball for his side to push for an attacking raid appeared to have failed miserably for Jarrod Croker from the kick-off as his kick soared from left to right in the air, gaining little distance. However the bounce swayed towards the Eels' 40 metre line where Morgan was controversially ruled to have knocked on in an attempt to desperately dive on the ball. Canberra made use of their possession as lanky winger Edrick Lee utilised his strength to cross in the corner. Jarrod Croker's perfect conversion levelled the scores and sent the game into golden point, much to the chagrin of each Parramatta supporter in attendance of the crowd of 10, 515.

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Golden point allowed for the return of Sisa Waqa from the bin before Canberra found themselves in a match-winning situation. The Parramatta defence rushed out in a desperate attempt to prevent Sam Williams from potting the winning field goal, however only left a gaping hole for English rake, Josh Hodgson to cross for his second try in the NRL and guarantee the Raiders a tenth placed finish while the Eels were forced to settle for twelfth place. The match was the last for Darcy Lussick in Eels colours who rejoins former club Manly, while it was also a satisfying finish to David Shillington's Canberra career as he prepares to make the switch to the Gold Coast in 2016.                      

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