Parramatta Eels centre Waqa Blake

After 62 minutes, little ball in the second half and down 10-0 to the Penrith Panthers, the Parramatta Eels needed something special.

They got it in the form of former Panther Waqa Blake, who kickstarted not one knockout punch but two.

“Waqa turned the game and I was really happy for him up against his old club,” Eels coach Brad Arthur said.

“He works extremely hard, it was a nice fend and nice try.

“It gave us a touch more energy and confidence on the back of it.”

With both sides undefeated heading into the clash, the battle of the West never disappoints and this was no exception.

The Panthers lost Kurt Capewell to injury after a minute, as he limped off over the dead ball line and into the sheds.

Both sides could have had other tries, momentum shifters, though they were denied due to players being pushed.

The first try went to Brian To’o, who made it look all too easy.

Josh Mansour then got in on the act when he scored off a simple play down the right hand side.

The Eels weren’t playing badly, they just were not their usual selves and needed some spark, some creativity.

Enter Waqa Blake.

As the Eels shifted the ball left, Blake was left one-on-one with Crichton and palmed him off to perfection.

That palm saw the field open up and Blake sliced through the gap and raced away to score.

He would teach the talented centre another lesson, this time with a savage right foot step.

Leaving Crichton in no man’s land, Blake would then find Eels captain Clint Gutherson to score a try, momentum taking him over.

Mitch Moses would get in on the act after he laid on a deft kick that bounced wickedly for Caleb Aekins.

There to pounce was Ryan Matterson who saw the ball bounce right towards him for an easy try.

There were some chances for the Panthers late on but the Eels defence held firm as they remain undefeated.

The Eels equal their best ever start to a season with five straight wins; the last time they did that was in 1986, and they won the premiership.

Momentum is everything and Cleary praised the Eels side for capitalising and criticised his own side.

“Any team who can get some momentum – especially with the new rules – can score points, especially this Parramatta team,” Cleary said.

“We’re still working away at it. We improved in that aspect last week but in a big tough game it doesn’t take much.

“That’s the big lesson for us tonight. I was really happy with the first half, a pretty tough and intense game.”

Arthur praised his side’s experience and cohesion as a unit for being able to mount the comeback they did.

“It’s experience, maturity, and what we want to stand for as a team week in and week out.

“Repeating what we do and what we know we do well.”

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Waqa Blake (PAR)

2. Nathan Brown (PAR)

  1. Liam Martin (PEN)
Parramatta Eels lock Nathan Brown

By ricky

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