A very unexpected and one-sided affair at ANZ this evening saw the bottom of the ladder Parramatta Eels defeat the St George Illawarra Dragons 40 points to 4.
The Dragons have now fallen to their third straight loss and fifth in six weeks, leaving fans with a knot in their stomach heading into the finals.
The affair seemed to go Parramatta’s way from the very beginning with Jarryd Hayne scoring his first of three tries in only the third minute.
It was Mitchell Moses with a beautiful cut out pass for his first of four try assists.
After copping an accidental boot to the face, Hayne was left with bandages across the face in his best The Mummy impersonation but that didn’t stop him from scoring the second try for the evening.
A Kane Evans offload followed by a Michael Jennings flick pass to Hayne saw Moses grab another try assist for Jarryd Hayne to crash over the try line.
It was only the second try of the evening but was a perfect representation of the dominance Parramatta were looking to display.
A trickle of errors and stream of penalties saw the Dragons seriously back pedalling and matters only got worse when Cameron McInnes was sent to the sin bin with just under 15 minutes remaining in the half.
Parramatta immediately went on the attack which ended up seeing Gareth Widdop up the tunnel with a dislocated shoulder and possible long stint on the sideline.
With a man down and Widdop out, Parramatta struck through George Jennings who steam rolled a weakened Dragons defense.
Parramatta kept the pressure strong, forcing errors and keeping their near 65% possession alive.
With just three minutes until the half time siren, Jaeman Salmon – the rookie in only his second NRL game – put a bomb in the air which flustered the defenders to allow for Jarryd Hayne’s first hattrick since Round 1, 2013.
Mitchell Moses proving to be sweet with his conversions again, saw the Parramatta Eels lead the Dragons 22-0 at half time.
The second half seemed to be much more positive as a Red V fan with Luciano Leilua out-hustling Michael Jennings for a kick return to score the Dragons’ first points of the game.
Unfortunately, for the Dragons, their goal kicker in Widdop was on the sideline so Ben Hunt’s attempt was waved away giving Parramatta a still comfortable 18 point lead.
Uncharacteristically, the Eels hit back almost immediately with a flying Clint Gutherson jumping off a Mitchell Moses grubber kick.
An injury scare almost soured the effort, however, the Parramatta captain shook off any concerns and continued to put together one of his best performances this season.
Mitchell Moses wasn’t happy with a 24 point lead and in the 51st minute, he put together one of his best individual tries almost as if the assists weren’t enough for him.
The 23 year old looked reborn as he faked Matt Dufty – the try scorer in the last minute victory for the Dragons against Parramatta just 6 weeks prior.
The night only seemed to get worse for the young fullback with two knock-ons to keep Parramatta’s possession percentage in the higher figures.
Siosaia Vave crashed over a tired and deflated Dragons defense with 3 minutes to go to sum up the night perfectly. T
he man of the hour, Mitchell Moses, slotting his 6th conversion for the night to bring Parramatta’s grand total to 40.
It was a forgettable evening for the Dragons as the Eels kept their hopes of avoiding the wooden spoon well and truly alive.
The Eels are off the bottom of the ladder for the first time since round 1.
Despite the Eels win, Widdop’s injury was a big talking point but Dragons coach Paul McGregor did not say much.
“We will know a lot more tomorrow afternoon,” was all the coach could muster when asked about it.
Although they need to look at themselves and regroup, Cam McInnes says the players still believe in their abilities.
“Individually, we need to have at ourselves,” he said.
“But we’ve got a great team here. People might want to write us off, but we’re not fazed at all.
We’ve got three games left and if people want to say ‘it’s scary not to be in the (top) four’, well, we will be back. We have all the confidence in the world.”
Each Eels player did their part but coach Brad Arthur admits that the make-up of the side is not necessarily set in stone.
“Who knows? We’ve got plenty of options,” Arthur said.
“Jarryd is floating around there, Guth’s going there, it gives us a bit of flexibility and a bit of unpredictability with our backline.
“Normy was blowing a touch there at the end but he just likes to get his hands on the footy and [fullback] takes him away from having to worry about too much organisational stuff and just play a bit of footy.
“He did well.”
Arthur also praised rookie half Salmon in just his second NRL game.
“I thought young Jaeman warmed into the game well,” Arthur continued.
He was good physically, which was always going to be the test for him. I thought they did okay.”
Desperate to break a run of four straight losses at home, the New Zealand Warriors have moved up to sixth after a win over the Newcastle Knights.
In a rather dominating and impressive display, the 20-8 win is a timely boost for the Warriors at the business end.
Celebrating Issac Luke’s 250th game, it was one to remember for the enigmatic hooker.
Despite the best efforts of fellow 250-gamer, Knights halfback Mitch Pearce, it was not to be for the Novocastrians.
It was the Knights who hit the lead first, as Ken Sio weaved in and out past defenders before carrying three of them over to score.
The slow start failed to phase the Warriors who eventually found their mojo and whipped themselves into submission.
A pass from Gerard Beale that popped up produced a rare try for the barnstorming Adam Blair.
A second try soon followed as David Fusitu’a bulldozed over Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga to score in the corner.
The timely try and subsequent conversions gave the Warriors a handy buffer.
Try as they might, the Warriors could not score again for a while but five-eighth Blake Green changed all that.
Slicing through some wafer-thin defence, Green weaved in and out to score.
The only further points came courtesy of a late penalty goal to give the Warriors a 20-4 win.
Although his side produced a sound performance to win, Stephen Kearney wants more from his side.
“The polish with our attack, I just don’t think that’s quite where we want it yet,” Kearney said.
“I thought our attack was probably just tinkering on really clicking tonight.
“We’ve probably been a little bit like that over the last month.
“To me it’s a bit of individual skill and detail so that’s the focus for us, particularly this week.”
He praised his side’s defence but wants to a more clinical attack in the coming weeks before finals.
“I think defensively over the last couple of weeks we’ve shown what we are capable of and that’s got to be the base standard for us,” Kearney continued.
“That’s definitely the area of improvement, the polish in our attack.”
The reason for the Warriors win according to Knights coach Nathan Brown; their back three. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Ken Maumalo and Fusitu’a.
“We didn’t handle their back three as good as we’d have liked. Roger [Warriors skipper Tuisava-Sheck] had a bit of a day out and the two big wingers are big powerful men,” Brown said.
“Back threes play such a big part in our contests today and Roger is up there as good as any and the two wingers, they’re big, big men, so they’ve got a good nucleus there to really build some momentum if they have their best players in the field.
An English international and successful with the Wigan Warriors, John Bateman will head to the NRL in 2019 after signing with the Canberra Raiders.
The 24-year old has played in more than 150 Super League games and joins the Raiders on a 3-year deal from 2019.
After the success of fellow Englishmen Elliott Whitehead and Josh Hodgson, the Raiders will hope Bateman can have a similar effect.
Able to cover both centre and back-row, Bateman is a player that the club praised.
“John is a wonderful talent who has the ability and skill set to play a number of positions,” Raiders recruitment and High-Performance Director Peter Mulholland said.
“We’ve already seen the success of both Elliott Whitehead and Josh Hodgson transitioning from the Super League to the NRL and we see John as being a player who can make a similar impact in this competition.”
“At 24, he’s got the perfect mix of experience and youth and we’re really looking forward to seeing him in green in 2019.”
Bateman admits that Wigan did their best to keep him at the club but his desire to play in another league prompted his move.
“This has been an incredibly tough decision for me to make as I have enjoyed my time at Wigan so much but, ultimately, I have always had the desire to play in the NRL at some point in my career so this opportunity something I didn’t want to turn down,” Bateman said.
“Wigan did all they could, in my opinion, to keep me here but I was always upfront with them regarding my motivation to play in a different competition.”
It is not all doom and gloom for Wigan fans, however, as the completion of his Raiders deal will see them return to Wigan.
Wigan aimed to get the best deal for all parties and are pleased with the outcome of Bateman’s departure for now and eventual return.
“John was adamant that he wanted to try his hand in the NRL and, once it became clear to us that he couldn’t be persuaded, we wanted to ensure that the Club gained the best deal in these set of circumstances,” Chairman Ian Lenegan said.
“I believe we have done so.
“Despite John’s experience, he is still only 24-years old and, throughout our discussions, he has made it clear to us that he is determined to return to Wigan in the future.
He will do so as a better player then, entering the peak years of his career, so we will look forward to welcoming him back to the Club.”
Playing in all 20 games so far this season, Dunamis Lui has earned a new three-year contract with the Canberra Raiders.
With the departures of both Shannon Boyd and Junior Paulo, retaining experience like Lui was key for the Raiders.
“Dunamis has shown wonderful commitment and professionalism to return from a serious knee injury and play every match for the club this season,” Raiders Recruitment and High-Performance Director PeterMulholland said.
“He’s an experienced first grade player who will be a valuable part of our squad in the next three seasons.
“Dunamis has been a consistent performer for us this year and we are looking forward to him continuing on his good form with the club.”