Parramatta Eels Coach Michael Hagan is still talking up the possibility of his team making the top eight as the once down and out side racks up their 4th win out of 5 matches.Â With the Eels having what seems to be a comfortable run home, can they keep their finals hopes alive?
The Bulldogs who have been playing with very little spirit in the past weeks came out with something to prove, however, with more on the line the Eels found just that little bit extra in the second half to come away with a 26-12 win.
Taulima Tautai,Â Parramatta’s centre who was a doubtful starter scored the opening try after 10 minutes, running down Tim Winitana.
The Dogs defence has left much to be desired this season, but they came straight back when Daniel Holdsworth threw a long ball which saw Heka Nanai over the line.Â Two minutes before half timeÂ Winitana broke through the Parramatta defence and scored to put the Dogs in the lead.
There were plenty of missed opportunities for the Dogs when Charlie Leaeno was stopped short of the line and the scrambling Eels defence tackled Utai into the corner post.Â Referee Russell Smith also disallowing an Andrew Ryan try coming off a Utai knock-on.
At 18, Jamal Idris made his dabut in the centres for the Bulldogs, and had an impressive first match being a stand out for the Dogs.Â
3 minutes after half time saw the Dogs Brad Morrin placed on report for a swinging high tackle on Jarryd Hayne and shortly after another loose arm around the neck of Luke Burt.
Playing into the middle of the ruck, Parramatta came out in the second half knowing they had to get back into the game and scored 3 late tries.Â A timely return from injury, Burt converted his own try from the sideline which locked the scores at 12-12 with 25 minutes remaining.Â 7 minutes later Burt put the Eels ahead with a 40 metre penalty.
Parramatta took advantage of play when Daniel Holdsworth’s restart went out on the full.Â Â Receiving an unexpected turnover, Chad Robinson broke over the line which saw Burt converting yet again.
Eels five-eight Kristopher Keating scored a last minute try and gave Burt a 100% kicking record with 5 from 5.
Parramatta coach Michael Hagan thought Burt returned a week earlier than he should have but Burt confirmed he felt fine after Saturday night’s game.
Burt, wearing protective padding, said he wasn’t 100% sure about how his ribs were going hold up and last 80 minutes but he was very happy with the result.
Eels halfback and motivator Brett Finch said the Eels have been playing with more confidence of late but suffered from the short turnaround from last playing last Monday.