NRL Parramatta Eels 27 – Penrith Panthers 14
Eels on right side of see-saw Clash
At the request of some readers, we’ll be doing an overview of the teams individually rather than a minute by minute description of the game – which can generally be found anywhere on the internet.
Parramatta Eels: Had some forced team changes this week with Riddell and Robinson out with injuries and Tahu and Cayless coming back into the side after missing last week. Parramatta started very physically and aimed to outmuscle Penrith, but Penriths nimble dummy half running made it hard for the Eels to keep the hits coming. The Eels had the majority of possession in the first half through gift penalties from Shayne Hayne and finally started to show some promise in attack. Tim Smith was at his 2005 best, with some impressive selective passing and deft kicking. Parramatta were denied a certain try from a Smith kick with a Burt put down – very surprising call from the video ref. Burts support play was dynamic throughout the game and he is certainly in top form. The outside backs all played solidly, with Tahu dangerous 1 on 1, Ben Smith stretching out in attack for the first time in a while and Hayne showing experience beyond his years. Grothe was a little erratic at times in defence, dropping high balls on several occasions and tackling high at critical times to turn over possession. The Parra forwards really lacked punch as the game rolled on. While Cayless tried hard, it was really only Foi Foi Moi Moi that was able to burst through the opposition line. While not providing much dropped ball, the forwards really were average at best. The only major negative to come out of the Eels performance was the game of Brett Finch. Brett has been the centre of fan and media attention but did himself no favours tonight, kicking out on the full very early to set the tone for his night. Several dropped balls, poor pass selection and flakey defence will see pressure pile up on the Parramatta pivot – as Blake Green continues to shout out for his chance in the run on side. Green played off the bench in the alternate hooking role, and again showed patience and experience beyond his years. Green is doing everything right to get his chance. The Eels are now 3 from 5 games without playing the absolute quality of football they would have liked, this promise must have Hagan excited as they roll on.
Penrith Panthers: Erratic. That is word that best sums up the Penrith Panthers in 2007 and it was exactly how they played tonight. The Panthers looked more like the dominant side all night, even if the scoreboard didn’t show it. A massive effort from the Penrith forwards must be mentioned. Joel Clinton I thought played his best game in 12 months, he really stepped up and was physical in attack and defence – something at times lacking from Clinton in big games. Reece Wesser was the key for the Panthers and after scoring early he continued to look dangerous, at times like he had spiders on him – the Eels simply couldn’t grass him. Wesser is a deceptively strong player, he surprised with his ability to fend and push away several times tonight and had his team been more disciplined – he would be collecting the man of the match award. Discipline, Discipline, Discipline. It absolutely killed the Panthers. After spending the week with referees boss Robert Finch, Matthew Elliot must have been tempted to hook some players after constant re-offending. Hayne continued to warn Panthers captain Craig Gower, but the Panthers continued to hold down the tackled player and keep hands on the ball during tackles. It saw the Eels piggy back down field on so many occasions and basically allowed the Eels to stay in the game. With the Penrith forwards dominating so much, the Panthers needed to keep going forward and play through the ruck – however for some reason they kept spreading the ball and playing side to side – preventing them from scoring so much more points. Penrith have really blown a chance to get ahead on the NRL Points Ladder, as they face the NRL benchmark team – the Melbourne Storm at Olympic Park next week. A tough roadtrip for the Mountain men.
Summary: A typical example of see-sawing modern day NRL rugby league. A penalty can change the course of a game, as can a critical call from the video referee, as can a dropped ball or being pinned in goal for a restart. Never has it been so important to hold the ball and play field position. Teams are starting to learn that no matter how good their opposition are, if possession can be won – a grinding victory is possible. If the game is played in the opposing half – the opposition cannot score. I felt tonight that Penrith looked more dominant NRL side, it was their failure to keep posession and ill-discipline that actually cost them the game.
Parramatta 27 (L Burt (2), N Hindmarsh, I Hindmarsh tries; L Burt 4 conversions, 1 penalty; I Hindmarsh 1 field goal) Penrith 14 (M Gordon, R Wesser tries; M Gordon 1 conversion, 2 penalties) Crowd: 19,000 Referee: Shayne Hayne
NRL News Report